A film about Queen frontman Freddy Mercury has been in development for years, and it looks like it will stay that way as lead actor Sacha Baron Cohen has dropped out of the project. His exit is said to be due to creative differences, as Cohen wanted the movie to be R-rated with a darker, more honest take on the lead singer (Mercury died of the Aids virus in 1991). The remaining Queen members, who have script and director approval over the film, wanted to go for a fluffy PG rating.
Queen rejected Cohen’s idea of having someone like David Fincher or Tom Hooper (both of whom Cohen brought in to help develop the project) to helm the film. Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) was hired to write the screenplay.
This is disappointing news as the film could have been something special. In addition to having an inevitable rocking soundtrack, Cohen is quite a talented actor/performer. He showed he had pipes in both Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables. It would have been great to hear him cover such Queen hits as Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, We are the Champions, and Under Pressure; among others.
There’s no rock band who’ve led a PG-rated life, so Queen’s reluctance to show a more honest portrayal of themselves makes it seem like they have something to hide. Maybe someone involved in the production can get the band to change their mind. If not, Queen may move forward with a different creative team who’ll agree to make their life into a children’s film. It’ll be less interesting… should still have a rocking soundtrack though.