A biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has been in the works for many, many years, and throughout most of that time, Sacha Baron Cohen was to be the man to bring Mercury to life onscreen. He sure looked the part, and few doubted he could bring the goods in the dramatic department. But back in 2013, Cohen finally exited the project over creative differences with the remaining Queen band members, who wanted the film to be a more family-friendly movie instead of Cohen’s envisioned R-rated, unflinching look at Mercury’s life.
But it appears that the Freddie Mercury movie has new life, and Cohen is back in the fold. Queen’s manager Jim Beach revealed a major breakthrough at the Artist & Management Awards (via The Playlist) Thursday night:
“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 a massive turnaround from where things last stood with the project, and I’m curious to see if—assuming this second-hand report is correct—Cohen will follow through on the project (this would mark his directorial debut). I don’t see him as the kind of guy to compromise the creative integrity of his vision to appease the band, so does this mean Cohen’s R-rated version has been approved?
Things are still a bit unclear at this point, but this is the first update we’ve heard on the project since last spring. Dexter Fletcher had come aboard to direct Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) in the pic, but Fletcher ended up bailing over creative differences with the band as well. When Cohen was actively developing the pic, he spoke with directors like David Fincher and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), but was never able to extend a formal offer because the band wouldn’t sign off on his vision. If Cohen is indeed back in the fold, hopefully he can rope in another high caliber filmmaker to finally bring this thing home.
[Update: Queen member Brian May said on his official blog that this was a joke that people had taken seriously. Move along.]