Over a month after its initial launch, Bohemian Rhapsody, Fox and
Bryan Singer’s Dexter Fletcher’s music-powered biopic about the life of iconic musician Freddie Mercury, is still a powerhouse at the box office. The Queen frontman was a mercurial figure in his own right, and it’s fair to say that, with a whopping $603.6 million in the bank already, audiences have truly lapped up the movie magic – so much so, in fact, that Bohemian Rhapsody‘s domestic total of $175.1M is enough to place it above Straight Outta Compton ($161M) and make it the biggest musical biopic of all time.
That’s a truly incredible feat, especially when you remember the production troubles it went through, not to mention the controversy that surrounded the project when they cast Rami Malek in the lead role. But if you’ve been keeping up with the pic’s journey to theaters, you’ll remember that Malek wasn’t actually the first choice. No, that’d be Sacha Baron Cohen, who was attached to the film for a while.
Of course, things didn’t work out in the end and now, Queen guitarist Brian May has explained why, saying the following in a recent interview:
“Sacha became an ar*e. We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas but he went off and told untruths about what happened. Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film? Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don’t think so.”
“We decided he wasn’t right for the role for very good reasons, which will become apparent if you watch what he’s done recently. It’s obvious that it wasn’t going to work, him playing Freddie. It wouldn’t suspend your disbelief. That was a near-disaster. I think we realised just in time what a disaster casting him was going to be. And it actually wasn’t rocket science to figure that out. But yeah, that’s one of the rocks that we nearly hit.
People often forget how crazy and wild Mercury was, and though Malek did do a terrific job in the end, Cohen could’ve really nailed the pinball like energy of the singer in his sleep. Frankly, we were pretty excited to see the Borat star in the role, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.
And like we said above, Rami Malek certainly stepped up to the challenge, bringing to the screen one of those rare performances that can still be appreciated even though the film itself wasn’t that great. That’s not to say that Bohemian Rhapsody is a bad movie, but by playing it too safe and making it a Queen biopic more than a Freddie Mercury biopic, it certainly fell short of expectations.