With Sacha Baron Cohen heading back into theaters next week with another loudly accented, outrageous comic character creation, it’s easy to forget he has aspirations beyond comedy. For a couple of years now he’s been attached to a biopic about late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury boasting a script from “The Queen” scribe Peter Morgan. At one point, the plan was to shoot it last August, but when we spoke to Morgan in the fall, he explained how it all went down. “Projects have great momentum, and then they slow down. I wrote it, they’ve got it. Maybe they’re sneakily rewriting it, I’ve got no idea. They were in a great hurry to do it, and then Sacha committed to doing ‘The Dictator.’ So at that moment, all our afterburners were slowed down. ‘Cause at one point, we were frantic, but Sacha had been working on the other one for four years. So I think he’s up to his eyeballs at the moment,” he said. But it looks like Baron Cohen wants to get back to it.
Variety reports that Baron Cohen and producer Graham King (who will be handling the movie through his GK Films shingle) are beginning the hunt for a director and the frontrunner for the job is Stephen Frears. The film will chronicle the rise of Queen and culminate with their historic appearance at Live Aid in 1985. Not only that, the untitled project has the rights to a batch of Queen tunes, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” Frears seems to be a smart, if not exactly exciting choice. Of course, he’s handled a Morgan screenplay before with “The Queen,” but it depends which director shows up. Frears can be great, but he’s also known to sleepwalk through stuff like “Tamara Drewe” or even his recent “Lay The Favorite,” which came out of Sundance with middling reviews.
But if he signs on, when this might roll remains to be seen. Frears is currently in the midst of production on “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” for HBO and also has “The Bengali Detective” developing over at Fox Searchlight. Meanwhile, Baron Cohen seems to be a bit more free at the moment, but as one of the most highly sought after comic actors around, that could change at any moment.
As Morgan said, momentum on a movie can change anytime, though it seems Baron Cohen and King are fired up to get this moving again. It does indeed sound like great material and it’s certainly a solid rock ‘n’ roll story and an nice change for Baron Cohen, so we hope this is the first step to the film going in front of cameras soon.