Sacha Baron Cohen won’t be playing Freddie Mercury after all. While the versatile actor has long been attached to play the Queen lead singer in a feature film biopic, reports have surfaced that Cohen has departed the project over creative differences. Apparently the remaining Queen band members—who have script and director approval—want the film to be a family-friendly PG flick, while Cohen has always intended for it to be an R-rated, unflinching look at Mercury’s life. Hit the jump for more, including which directors Cohen tried to bring on to the project.
Deadline reports that Cohen commissioned a script by Peter Morgan and developed the project with directors like David Fincher and Tom Hooper, but the band members never signed off. Apparently the creative differences made it impossible to extend a formal offer Hooper’s way, as Cohen’s Les Miserables helmer was rumored to be in the running just a few months ago.
This is quite an unfortunate development. Cohen seemed like a swell choice to bring Mercury to life, and a more three-dimensional portrayal of the singer seems like a much more interesting prospect rather than a toned-down version. Mercury struggled to maintain his privacy in the public eye, even though his bisexuality was widely known. He died of AIDS in 1991. The biopic is set up at Sony Pictures and GK Films, but it’s unknown how things will proceed from here. If a PG Freddie Mercury movie is what the band members have in mind, it seems like this one is just better left alone.