Sacha Baron Cohen, who was once attached to portray Freddie Mercury in a Queen-approved biopic, said earlier this year that he left the project because after certain individuals said the film wouldn’t feature “warts ’n’ all.” The actor even said of guitarist Brian May that he’s “an amazing musician, but he’s not a great movie producer.” Now that May has learned what Cohen told press about him and the biopic, he has some thoughts of his own.
Speaking with The Daily Mail, May explained:
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.
After Cohen departed, Spectre’s Ben Whishaw was eyed for the role, though May says the casting isn’t set in stone. “We’re hoping Ben Whishaw will do it,” he said, adding, “He’s fabulous — a real actor.” May also addressed why Cohen ultimately wasn’t right for the role, seemingly referring to his recent work on Grimsby.
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.
The Mercury biopic has endured a long development process with filmmakers coming in and out. Dexter Fletcher departed the director’s seat in 2014, while screenwriter Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) was hired last year to work on the script. Though this has no become a case of “he said, he said,” Cohen told Howard Stern that he didn’t like hearing the film would go beyond Mercury’s death from AIDS in 1991 to show how the band “carries on from strength to strength.”