Artist News

Sacha Baron Cohen removed from Freddie Mercury film for being “an arse”, says Brian May

By | Published on Friday 15 April 2016

Freddie Mercury

Queen’s Brian May has discussed claims made by Sacha Baron Cohen about how he came to no longer be playing Freddie Mercury in a film about the singer.

Speaking to Howard Stern earlier this year, Baron Cohen said that he had dropped out when it became apparent that the film was going to focus on how Queen continued after Mercury’s death, explaining: “I said, ‘listen, not one person is going to a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see how the band carries on’ … Brian May is a great musician, but he’s not a great movie producer”.

But in a new interview with the Daily Mail, May says the problem was that “Sacha became an arse”. He went on: “We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas but he went off and told untruths about what happened”.

Adds May: “Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film? Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don’t think so. We decided he wasn’t right for the role for very good reasons, which will become apparent if you watch what he’s done recently. It’s obvious that it wasn’t going to work, him playing Freddie. It wouldn’t suspend your disbelief. We’re hoping Ben Whishaw will do it. He’s fabulous – a real actor”.

Whishaw was reported to be cast in the lead role in 2013, although May’s comments suggest that this is not now assured. Queen drummer has previously said that Baron Cohen was dropped because his performance might have been seen as comedic. That does often happen when you hire a comedian.

Commenting further on the long-in-production film, May added: “We’ll have a director – although we still haven’t signed one up – and then hopefully we can step back and just look after the music side of it. We have arrived at a great storyline. But the film’s not going out till it’s right”.

Well, employing a director definitely seems like a good idea. Sounds like it’s all in hand.