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Sacha Baron Cohen Says David Fincher Eyed Queen Biopic, Producers Wanted Freddie Mercury To Die Mid-Movie

Sacha Baron Cohen Says David Fincher Eyed Queen Biopic, Producers Wanted Freddie Mercury To Die Mid-Movie

It seemed almost too good to be true. Years ago, Sacha Baron Cohen became linked to play Freddie Mercury in a biopic about the wild life of the lead singer of Queen, who tragically died from AIDS in 1991 at the age of 45. It’s a story that has everything —sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, tragedy and a lead character who was larger than life— with a pretty inspired choice in Cohen to play the starring role. Unfortunately, the project got stuck in development hell and eventually Cohen left the film, with the word on the street being that there was a clash of creative visions. Today, the actor talked about what went down today on "The Howard Stern Show," and it’s pretty remarkable stuff.

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“There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. He was living an extreme lifestyle [of] debauchery. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party,” Cohen said, before adding that was exactly the kind of thing the surviving members of Queen didn’t want depicted in their biopic. “It [becomes] a less interesting movie, but you’ve got to remember that they want to protect their legacy as a band, and they want it to be about Queen. And I fully understand that.”
However, the actor admitted to Stern that he should’ve listened to the warning bells that were going off right from the start. “[After] my first meeting, I should never have carried on because a member of the band —I won’t say who— said, ‘This is such a great movie, because such an amazing thing happens in the middle of the movie.’ I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.’ I go, ‘So you mean it’s a bit like ‘Pulp Fiction,’ where the end is the middle and the middle is the end? That’s interesting.’ He goes, ‘No no no.’ So I said, ‘Wait a minute. What happens in the second half of the movie?’ And he said, ‘Well, we see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’ And I said, ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see [what happens to the band].”

Yes, the members of the band (this would have been either Brian May or Roger Taylor) wanted Freddie Mercury to die midway through the movie, with the latter half of the picture focusing on how Queen continued. And Cohen fully comprehends the mindset that powers such a viewpoint. “I fully understand why Queen wanted to do this. If you’re in control of your rights of your life story, why wouldn’t you depict yourself as great as possible?”

And even in light of the massive talent Cohen wrangled for such a movie, nothing worked in getting the movie made. “They asked me to write the movie, but I said, ‘I don’t know how to write a biopic.’ So I got in Peter Morgan [‘The Queen’], [but] they didn’t like that. I brought in David Fincher who wanted to direct it, then Tom Hooper [‘The King’s Speech,’ ‘The Danish Girl‘] —they were very specific about how they wanted to do it. But at the end of the day, it really was an artistic difference." 

It’s a quite story, and the future of the project perhaps lies at Cohen’s assessment of one of the film’s producers: “Brian May is an amazing musician, but he’s not a great movie producer.” 

Listen to Cohen talk to Stern about the Queen biopic below. The actor’s "The Brothers Grimsby" opens on Friday.

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Comments

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That really sounds like a God-awful idea

Ken the Magnificient

@Barbara – Rob James-Collier wouldn’t sell a single ticket. AS much as you may disagree, STARS get asses in the seats and that equals money.

linnie

sorry for the terrible proof reading

linnie

If it’a to be a Freddie Mercury biopic then, certainly, he cannot die in the middle of the story. If it’s a Queen biopic then it does need to address his death and the life of Queen beyond that. As for the over-the top parties, that was a part of Freddie’s life and I fans know that not all the boys were not involved in that style of life. I, for one, am glad that SBC is not a part of the project

Jose

Just have to wait until the rest of the band are deceased then!

Dennis Harvey

I find it hard to believe the Queen members seriously thought Mercury’s death would occur halfway through the film. Does anyone remember what Queen did after he died? Of course not, because nothing happened. They played some benefits with guest vocalists, Deacon retired, they played as "Queen" with only two original members left…Adam Lambert got involved…all these are just postscripts. If the band actually thought that post-Freddie stuff was worth dramatizing, they’re delusional.

Barbara

Rob James-Collier would be perfect for the part of Freddie Mercury. NOT Sacha Baron Cohen.

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