Long before Rami Malek waltzed on stage as the inimitable Freddie Mercury, word on the street was that Sacha Baron Cohen, star of such eclectic hits as Borat and The Dictator, had an outside chance of leading Bohemian Rhapsody for 20th Century Fox.
Turns out that was never the case, as Baron Cohen conceded that he was never actually in the running for the coveted role this past weekend, when Hollywood’s elite descended upon the annual Producers Guild Awards. Specifically, at no point was he attached to Bohemian Rhapsody, and merely held preliminary talks with the Powers That Be over at Fox.
Appearing at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast (h/t Variety), here’s the word form the man himself:
There was a lot of talk about different people playing Freddie Mercury and no one was actually signed to play Freddie Mercury, no one was attached to play Freddie Mercury until Rami Malek. It was just a lot of talk — there was a couple of actors that wanted to play that role.
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It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Sacha Baron Cohen fell off Fox’s radar so soon into the development of Bohemian Rhapdosy, given the length of time it took Rami Malek to properly sink his, ahem, teeth into the nuanced, deeply flawed character that is Freddie Mercury.
And while there are those who believe the film didn’t delve deep enough, Bohemian Rhapsody is now officially a Golden Globe winner, prompting talk of a major upset at next month’s Oscar ceremony. Could Freddie and Co. snatch Hollywood’s top prize? Or will the damning allegations surrounding Bryan Singer, the film’s erstwhile director, hinder its chances of Oscar glory? Time will tell.