Production on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the forthcoming biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury starring Rami Malek, has been suspended so that director and producer Bryan Singer, 52, can tend to what his representative described as “a personal health matter,” the BBC News reports.
In its own statement, distributor Twentieth Century Fox made no reference to Singer’s health, stating: “Twentieth Century Fox Film has temporarily halted production on Bohemian Rhapsody due to the unexpected unavailability of Bryan Singer.” Although the film’s December 2018 release date remains, the studio offered no timeline for his return.
However, Singer’s representative told the BBC that there was “a personal health matter concerning Bryan and his family,” and added this statement: “Bryan hopes to get back to work on the film soon after the holidays.” According to the outlet, “Both Singer and a family member are believed to be suffering from health problems” of an unknown nature.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” follows Queen from the band’s inception in 1970 until their 1985 performance at Live Aid. Robert De Niro is a producer on the project — which has been in development since 2010 — as are Mercury’s former bandmates, Brian May and Roger Taylor. Born Farrokh Bulsara in what is now Tanzania, Mercury died of HIV/AIDS in 1991, at age 45.
With the tense atmosphere surrounding sexual harassment in Hollywood, his abrupt departure is expected to cause suspicion given past allegations faced by Singer.
In 1997, a 14-year-old extra on Singer’s film “Apt Pupil” claimed that Singer requested that he and his peers completely disrobe to film a shower scene; a judge dismissed the case, citing insufficient evidence. In April 2014, former child actor Michael Egan (who appeared in the documentary “An Open Secret”) alleged that Singer drugged and raped him in Hawaii in 1999. Egan’s attorneys soon dropped him as a client, convinced that he’d falsified his claim; the suit was withdrawn.
Then, in May 2014, Singer was accused of having a 17-year-old beaten up at the London after-party of his 2006 film “Superman Returns” so that Singer could attempt to rape the boy, with producer Gary Goddard looking on. That case was dismissed two months later at the accuser’s request.
On November 1, 2017, Twitter user Justin Smith published a series of now-deleted tweets about meeting Singer in 2000, being present at drug-fueled parties that typically featured a “harem of boys,” and being digitally penetrated by the director. Within the week, Singer had deactivated his Twitter account.
On November 3, Jessica Chastain — a co-star in next year’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” — tweeted an article incriminating Singer, who is one of the film’s producers.
Let us not forget https://t.co/0TNDxl8h1Q
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) November 4, 2017
Students at the University of Southern California have circulated a petition to have Singer’s name removed from the division of its School of Cinematic Arts bearing his name.
Singer’s credits include directing Kevin Spacey’s 1996 Oscar-winning performance in “The Usual Suspects,” and four films in the “X-Men” franchise, as well as serving as executive producer on TV series such as “Legion” and “House.”
Read IndieWire’s timeline on Singer’s rocky career here.