The saga of the long developing Freddie Mercury biopic is as operatic as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Once promisingly slated to star Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor bailed from the movie after he couldn’t come to an agreement with the surviving members of Queen over the tone of the movie. Throughout, there has been a lot of talk, but not much action. Dominic Cooper, Daniel Radcliffe, and Ben Whishaw were tossed around as possible stars at various points, while Stephen Frears, Tom Hooper, Dexter Fletcher, and even David Fincher were all mentioned as potential directors, with varying degrees of likeliness. Meanwhile, a script by “The Queen” screenwriter Peter Morgan has been kicking around for a while. Now it looks like the remaining members of Queen are not only going back to Cohen, but giving him total creative power.
The band’s manager, Jim Beach, during the Artist & Management Awards (man, there are awards for everything) on Thursday night, revealed: “An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star.” That’s quite an announcement. It also marks a radical shift in direction from the previous stance of the band, in particular Brian May, who thought audiences wouldn’t be able to separate Cohen’s comic persona from Mercury’s. But not only are they putting him back in front of the camera, but behind it too, in what would be his directorial debut. That’s a lot of trust.
There is nothing official from Cohen’s people, and no word if this is set up a studio. Given the rocky history of the movie, don’t get too excited just yet. But Cohen is a great choice, and certainly commits very hard to whatever character he plays, comic or otherwise. Let’s hope this project finally gets rockin’. [Daily Mail]