Baron Cohen, who is known worldwide for his characters Ali G, Borat and Bruno, has told American radio host Howard Stern that creative differences between himself and the remaining members of Queen led to the downfall of the proposed film.
Considering the content of his movies, it’s unsurprising that Cohen reveals that he sought to portray a rather sombre, gritty, R-rated Mercury, which clashed with Queen’s wishes for an inoffensive, clean portrayal.
(Note that in the US an R-rating is conceived differently than in Australia; it more-or-less corresponds to an MA-rating here.)
Despite calling Queen guitarist Brian May – who has many feathers in his cap, including groundbreaking musician and a phd in astrophysics – “not a great movie producer”, Baron Cohen was still diplomatic about the whole thing; “I understand it, they are a band, they’ve got to protect their legacy and they want it to be about Queen”, he told Stern.
While Baron Cohen wanted to follow the stories of Mercury’s “extreme lifestyle”, which apparently included “little people with plates of cocaine on the head walking around parties”, the band had other ideas, such as making Mercury’s death from AIDS the midpoint of the narrative.
Despite being asked by the band to write this prospective biopic, and working on it for six years, it’s unlikely Baron Cohen will be too upset by the turn of events. He does have a new, Noel Gallagher-baiting movie called Grimsby out.
Listen: Sacha Baron Cohen chats with Howard Stern about the Freddie Mercury movie.