After casting troubles and reports that the project would soon collapse, producer of the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic and Queen guitarist Brian May has assured fans the film is “in good shape,” while Roger Taylor has revealed that UK actor Ben Whishaw may play the lead.
Speaking to Classic Rock, May opened up on the egress of Sacha Baron Cohen, previously slated to play the lead role and whose departure saw script author Peter Morgan walk off the project and tell the BBC that the film was “probably not going to happen.”
“It’s quite difficult to talk about,” May said, “because we owe Sacha a lot. He had so much enthusiasm for the project and it really helped us kick it into the start position. But 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 guitarist continued.
May explained that the decision to let Baron Cohen go was made in the interests of delivering a believable film and that the actor’s departure was amicable, saying:
“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.
“That’s not any criticism of his talent whatsoever, it’s just a feeling that it was not going to work – that the pieces didn’t fit together anymore. But we parted company on very good terms.”
May’s words come as a relief to many Queen fans, who were anxious after Baron Cohen’s exit and Queen drummer Roger Taylor‘s bemusement with the speed at which the project was progressing, saying “I thought the music business was slow, but this has been like swimming in treacle.”
May also said that a replacement for Baron Cohen was already in the picture, though he wouldn’t reveal any details, saying “I can’t really say who it is, but I think we’re close. We’re in good shape.” Reports had previously surfaced that Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe would take on the role.
Though May was cryptic about who producers were eyeing for the role, Taylor has revealed that they have their sights set on James Bond actor Ben Whishaw. Speaking to BBC’s One Show, Taylor said that their preferred actor had the initials “BW.”
When Taylor was asked if “BW” was in reference to Whishaw, Taylor replied “Well, we hope so,” reports The Guardian. Readers can stay up to date with all the news surrounding the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic at our special Feed right here!
(Via Classic Rock)