When news came through the wire that Sacha Baron Cohen has pulled out of the highly-anticipated Queen biopic due to “creative differences,” everyone was upset because that seemed like the only acceptable choice as that role. But according to a new interview with Brian May, that might have been the exact reason why they didn’t want Cohen to play Freddie Mercury.
May told Classic Rock Magazine that it’s “difficult to talk about” because they “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.” In other words, they think Cohen is too STRONG of an actor and a presence to just become Mercury.
“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,” confessed May. “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 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.”
Apparently, a replacement for Cohen is in the works. “We can’t do this wrong. It has to be done right,” said May.
“We’re very protective (of Freddie) and we’re known for not hiding away from the truth. There’s not going to be any pretense about this. It’s going to be something very true – as true as we can make it – but also respectful to Freddie as a performer and as a man.” Meaning they probably won’t show all the partying and wild things Mercury did–which is kind of sad because that’s what gave Mercury his powerful yet vulnerable voice. We shall see though.
–Nadia Noir, CBS Radio Los Angeles