Well this is interesting casting. According to Deadline Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno) has signed up to play Freddie Mercury, who was the lead vocalist of rock band Queen. The movie will be made by GK Films (The Tourist, The Town) and focuses on the band’s formative years, leading up to Queen’s appearance at Live Aid in 1985. Queen’s performance is considered one of rock’s all-time great live concert performances.
Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) is working on the script and the aim is to begin filming next year.
A rights package has been set that includes the band’s tunes, including Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions , Another One Bites The Dust and You’re My Best Friend. It is unclear whether Baron Cohen will sing—I’m told he can sing—or whether Mercury’s vocals will be used. Nobody sang like Mercury, so trying to replicate him would be a tall order. These decisions will be made as a director gets hired.
GK’s King confirmed the Queen deal: “Queen is one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and a music brand all unto itself,” he said in a statement. “Freddie Mercury was an awe-inspiring performer, so with Sacha in the starring role coupled with Peter’s screenplay and the support of Queen, we have the perfect combination to tell the real story behind their success.”
Mercury died November 24, 1991 of complications from AIDS. Though his death helped to remove the stigma of AIDS sufferers prevalent at that time and particularly in the rock music industry, Mercury’s last days won’t be the subject of the film.
While he is most known for his comedy work in Borat, Bruno and Talladega Nights Cohen can do non-comedy films, and will be seen in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret next year.
This may be premature, but this could easily be Sacha Baron Cohen’s shot at an Oscar. The Academy loves movies based on iconic musicians (Jamie Foxx in Ray, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, Walk the Line, Dreamgirls) so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some awards buzz for this movie.