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Why Sacha Baron Cohen Left The Freddie Mercury Biopic


It’s time for another installment of “Here’s What This Movie Could Have Been But Will Never Be”.  It’s always a bummer to hear stories of a movie that sounds amazing in theory, but we never get a chance to see it as talented people begin to have “creative differences”.

A few moons ago, Sacha Baron Cohen was lined up to play Queen front man Freddie Mercury in a biopic.  Not only does Cohen bare a striking resemblance to the late singer, but he seemed determined to get the character just right, in all his wondrous, and at times ugly, glory.  This led to some friction between Cohen and the surviving members of Queen, who sound as though they wanted a Queen movie over a Freddie Mercury movie, and eventually this left to Cohen leaving the project.  While on The Howard Stern Show to promote The Brothers Grimsby, Cohen elaborated on the situation:

“There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. He was living an extreme lifestyle [of] debauchery. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party. It [becomes] a less interesting movie, but you’ve got to remember that they want to protect their legacy as a band, and they want it to be about Queen. And I fully understand that. [After] my first meeting, I should never have carried on because a member of the band —I won’t say who— said, ‘This is such a great movie, because such an amazing thing happens in the middle of the movie.’ I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.’ I go, ‘So you mean it’s a bit like ‘Pulp Fiction,’ where the end is the middle and the middle is the end? That’s interesting.’ He goes, ‘No no no.’ So I said, ‘Wait a minute. What happens in the second half of the movie?’ And he said, ‘Well, we see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’ And I said, ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see [what happens to the band].”

Cohen went on to name drop some of the people who were interested in being involved:

“They asked me to write the movie, but I said, ‘I don’t know how to write a biopic.’ So I got in Peter Morgan (Rush), [but] they didn’t like that. I brought in David Fincher (Gone Girl) who wanted to direct it, then Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl) —they were very specific about how they wanted to do it. Listen, at the end of the day, it really was an artistic difference.”

A David Fincher directed Freddie Mercury biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen.  I’ll go to sleep dreaming of this movie for months.

Do you think this was a good reason? Sound off below!

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