Is this real life? Nah, I guess it’s just fantasy. The Freddie Mercury biopic suffered a setback this week as Sacha Baron Cohen has dropped out of the lead role.
The actor was all set to finally play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the long-gestating biopic. Now he’s out of the film altogether. Baron Cohen was all about dealing with the adult, gritty stuff, while the remaining Queen members wanted a happier, fuzzier and less R-rated version of the story. Unable to come to an agreement – and with Queen members having final say on the script and director – Baron Cohen has exited stage right.
There’s no telling where this leaves the Mercury movie. Directors that have been floated include David Fincher and Stephen Frears, with Tom Hooper now pretty much set. The Queen scribe Peter Morgan is still set to write the script. As this film has been kicking around for awhile now, I’m surprised that Queen would let such a big name as Baron Cohen go so easily.
In this case, I feel like I’m on the side of Baron Cohen. If Queen really want a biopic that glosses over some of the difficult aspects of Mercury’s life, then it’s unlikely to appeal to anyone. I understand not wanting to dwell entirely on the grittiness of his life and the tragedy of his death, but they’re at least going to have to acknowledge the fact that he died from complications as a result of AIDS. That’s pretty adult.
The unnamed biopic was supposed to start shooting in the spring of this year, but now it’s probably pushed back even further. The fact that the film just lost its leading man makes it unlikely that filming will start any time soon.
What do you think of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s exit? Can a PG Freddie Mercury biopic do justice to the man? Let us know in the comments.