Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sacha Baron Cohen Won't Be Returning to the Queen Biopic After All

Wait a minute, only yesterday you were saying Sacha Baron Cohen was playing Freddie Mercury?

That's right. Yesterday it was widely reported – including on this website – that Sacha Baron Cohen had resolved his "creative differences" with Brian May and Roger Taylor and would be doing the biopic after all.

Early April Fools' Day prank?

Nope. Queen's manager Jim Beach said as much in a speech as the Artist & Management awards. He told the audience:

"You have probably followed the saga of the famous Queen-Freddie Mercury biopic which has been developing in Hollywood for the last seven years. An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star."

So was the manager lying?

He was joking – or at least that's what Brian May says. On his official website he says it was a "small joke that Jim threw in":

"He said that, in response to enquiries about the progress on the Freddie feature film, that Sacha Baron Cohen had been re-engaged to write, produce and direct the film, as well as starring in all four major roles! I'm afraid some folks might have taken it seriously!"

Has Sacha Baron Cohen taken it seriously?

He's been very quiet about the whole thing – which is suspicious in itself.

Remind me when and why he stopped being involved in the first place.

Back in July 2013 because of "creative differences".

Later that year Brian May explained that they thought he would be "distracting."

"In the end, we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting... He makes outstanding performances but they're very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances. And we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie — we didn't think that could really happen with Sacha."

So who will play the Queen frontman?

Well, Ben Whishaw was supposed to Baron Cohen's replacement and was officially confirmed way back in December 2013. But he's also been keeping schtum and his filming schedule for 2015 looks awfully busy.

I won't hold my breath then.

It does seem more like a farce than a film at the moment but you never know – perhaps this is an early April Fools' Day prank and Brian May is the one having a "small joke".

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sacha Baron Cohen Back on the Freddie Mercury Biopic, Now With Total Creative Control

A biopic based on the life of legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has been in the works for years, with Sacha Baron Cohen previously attached to star before he was forced off the project by surviving band members who disagreed with his vision. Since then, the project has fumbled, with various actors and directors rumored for the biopic, which has made negligible progress since Cohen’s departure. Now it appears that the surviving bandmates have had a change of heart, pulling Cohen back onto the project, this time granting him complete control.

The Daily Mail reports that Cohen is once again attached to the Mercury biopic, not only to star, but also to write and direct. During the Artist and Management Awards this week, Queen manager Jim Beach made the announcement:

"An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star."

Previously, the surviving band members were hesitant about Cohen’s involvement in the project — specifically, Brian May was concerned that Cohen’s prevalence as a comedic talent would not translate well to a more serious effort. Not only does Cohen have the near-perfect appearance and physicality required to play Mercury, but a more serious project would allow him to showcase a wider range to audiences more familiar with his various alter egos. It’s just the kind of role he needs — think Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love.

Since Cohen initially departed the project, actors like Dominic Cooper and Ben Whishaw have been linked to the role of Mercury, while directors including Tom Hooper, Stephen Frears and David Fincher (yeah, sure) were also rumored candidates at various times.

The surviving Queen members have made a complete 180, switching from having a lack of faith in Cohen to giving him total control. The biopic will mark Cohen’s directorial debut, which means these guys are placing a lot of trust in the actor to pull this thing off.