Bohemian Rhapsody: Brian May ‘Sacha Baron Cohen Freddie Mercury would've been a DISASTER’
Back when the Freddie Mercury biopic was in pre-production, Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to play the Queen singer. However, in July 2013 he left the project – despite having perfected the vocals to match the late star. At the time May said: “In the end, we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting. What led us to that conclusion was the last three movies that he’s made – The Dictator, Les Miserables and Hugo – in which he makes outstanding performances, but they’re very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances.”
The Queen guitarist added: “And we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie. You have to really suspend that disbelief – the man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie.
“And we didn’t think that could really happen with Sacha.”
Now, in a new interview with Classic Rock, May said: “Well, that was a near-disaster. I think we realised just in time what a disaster that was going to be.
“And it actually wasn’t rocket science to figure that out. But yeah, that’s one of the rocks that we nearly hit.”
May continued: “I think we were all nervous in the beginning, when the casting process was going on.
“Because yes, that’s a real tough thing to contemplate – somebody playing the part of you.
“The guy who plays me, Gwilym Lee, I spent a lot of time with him, so he understood me. He’d be picking up my mannerisms and what makes me tick.
“So when Freddie and me are in the studio, confronting each other, it’s very real. Some of it was improvised, but they did it with the knowledge that they understood us from the inside out.”
Later Ben Whishaw had been attached to star but in the end, the role went to Rami Malek who has now been nominated for a Golden Globe.
On finding the right actor to play Freddie, May said: “I think we all thought it would be difficult. At some points, we thought it was impossible.
“But along came Rami, and we had a great feeling immediately. “
Bohemian Rhapsody is out now.
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