As soon as news of a Freddie Mercury biopic began circulating, fans of the larger-than-life Queen frontman have been wondering how a Hollywood film about the bisexual singer would handle his sexuality. When 20th Century Fox released a one-minute teaser trailer for “Bohemian Rhapsody” back in May, users were quick to point out that the film seemed to ignore Mercury’s bisexuality. Most notable among the detractors was “Pushing Daisies” and “Hannibal” creator Bryan Fuller, who tweeted his frustration with the apparent “straight-washing” of Mercury’s queerness and AIDS diagnosis.
“Anyone else mildly annoyed that the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ trailer features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men?,” Fuller tweeted.
Lucy Boynton (“Sing Street”), the actress who plays Mercury’s lifelong friend and fiancée Mary Austin, took umbrage with Fuller’s characterization. In an interview with Digital Spy, Boynton argued that “Bohemian Rhapsody” handles Mercury’s sexuality clearly and sensitively.
“It’s when people want to have something to criticize that is kind of jarring, especially because it does and the one thing that we’re so proud of with this film is that I don’t feel it ever steps over the line into any kind of expose or intrusiveness,” she said. “I don’t know what people wanted to see in terms of… they always ask about the darkness of Freddie and such and it’s like, it’s a celebration and ode to [him].”
In fact, in a scene between Boynton and Rami Malek, who plays Mercury, the two characters address the singer’s sexuality quite explicitly.
“Obviously that’s a creative interpretation because no one else was in the room so no one else knows what exactly was said,” she said. “It was a weird moment of trying to navigate the most beneficial way to portray it to give the most impact on the audience, but also what she would be comfortable about seeing now and what was true to the situation then. It’s a whole juggling act, it’s really terrifying.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was directed by Bryan Singer, and written by Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan. You can watch Boynton’s interview with Digital Spy here.
20th Century Fox opens “Bohemian Rhapsody” in theaters on November 2, 2018.