A biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has been in the works for quite some time. In an inspired bit of casting, Sacha Baron Cohen is attached to star as the famed rock musician, and now the project is close to landing a director. Variety reports that Stephen Frears (The Queen) is the frontrunner to land the directing job, though negotiations have yet to begin. Apparently other filmmakers are still in the mix, but Frears “has the inside track.” In addition to more serious fare like The Queen and Dangerous Liasons, Frears also directed the excellent 2000 music-centered dramedy High Fidelity. Hit the jump for more.
Steve sat down with producer Graham King late last year, and he revealed that it’s possible that Cohen might be singing Queen songs himself in the biopic. He stretched his vocal chops in Sweeney Todd, but I’m not too sure if he can match Mercury’s range. Peter Morgan (The Queen) wrote the latest draft of the script, and the story will follow Queen’s formation up through their famous appearance at Live Aid in 1985. The film will not, however, cover Mercury’s death in 1991 after battling AIDS.
Frears is currently directing the drama Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight for HBO, but his schedule is relatively clear for the near future (save for an adaptation of The Bengali Detective). If he does land the gig, I’m hoping that production begins sometime this year; I’m eager to see Cohen tackle more dramatic material and this appears to be a fine vehicle to showcase his acting talents. Producers have secured rights to a number of classic Queen songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are the Champions,” so this won’t be a music biopic that conveniently neglects the artist’s most famous work a la The Story of Jackie Jorp-Jomp.