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.
In September 2010, Sacha Baron Cohen signed on to play Freddie Mercury in a biopic scripted by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon). Despite premature production announcements, the biopic has kicked around in development for the past couple years. Stephen Frears (High Fidelity) was identified as the frontrunner to direct last summer, but several seasons have passed with no update. At the very least, the biopic is attracting great talent, because Deadline hears Tom Hooper is now circling the project. No formal offer has been made to Hooper, but I imagine working with a singing Baron Cohen on the Les Mis set was a fun experience worth repeating.
Speaking of Baron Cohen singing: Producer Graham King hinted the actor may attempt to sing all those Queen songs. Replicating Freddie Mercury is easier said than done (especially if Hooper would make him sing live on set), so we’ll see if that makes it past the Neat Idea stage. Morgan’s script starts with Queen’s formation in the early 1970s and ends around their 1985 Live Aid set, which you can watch in full after the jump.
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.
With director Marin Scorsese‘s Hugo getting released tomorrow, Steve got the chance to sit down with producer Graham King over the weekend. That interview produced a Sunday article with updates on the Tomb Raider reboot. King has several promising projects in the works, though, so today we wanted to pass along what he had to say on two other films set up at his production company GK Films.
The first is the Queen movie, in which Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury. King suggests Cohen may even sing the classic Queen songs. Currently, there is no director attached and the script is still in development because King knows with a subject so iconic, “You’ve got to get it right.” King also talked about his adaptation of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys. That script is also in development, and while there will be some changes in the translation from stage to screen, the “DNA of the movie is going to be the same.” Hit the jump for the full interview.
It’s always a great time to be a Queen fan, but especially now. Last September, we reported that Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in a film about the rock musician’s life. Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor have told Queen Online that screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) has delivered a first draft of the script, and that the team behind the flick is planning to shoot later this year with an eye towards a fall 2012 release. May and Taylor also say that they’re developing the Queen jukebox musical We Will Rock You into a movie.
Hit the jump to read their full statement.
The drama Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood, tells the story of three people who are each haunted by mortality. When screenwriter/executive producer Peter Morgan read a book about a woman who lost her sister and really sought to connect with her, he was so moved that it inspired him to explore the ways in which death touches different individuals in different ways. The film stars Matt Damon, Cecile de France and Frankie & George McLaren.
As a writer who has spent much of his career telling stories that are fact-based, Peter Morgan admits that writing something that was more instinctual and emotional was very different for him. During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, he talked about doing more of a mixture in his storytelling now, how encouraging it is to work with someone who puts trust in you as a writer in the way that Clint Eastwood does and how, when a story grabs him in a particular moment, he just has to jump on it. He also spoke about how he became involved as executive producer on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, being directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), and that the biopic about Freddie Mercury, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, is where his focus is now. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Here’s a bit of exciting casting news: Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) has signed on to play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic. The film will be written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) and will focus on “the band’s formative years, leading up to Queen’s appearance at Live Aid in 1985.” According to Deadline, a rights package has been set for the band’s music, but it’s still unknown if Cohen will be providing his own vocals, or whether Mercury’s voice will be used.
This won’t be Cohen’s first foray into musicals given his memorable appearance in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd. The comedian is, in my opinion, a perfect and excellent choice to play Mercury, and I look forward to seeing who signs on to direct the film. I would also love to see Cohen attempt to match Mercury’s unique and amazing vocals, but I wouldn’t hold it against him if he decides to lip synch his way through the film. In the meantime, you can next see Cohen starring in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret, which is set to open next December.