Sacha Baron Cohen is Freddie Mercury in the Story of Queen
With his obnoxious, raunchy and always hilarious antics in films like Brüno, Borat, and Talladega Nights, actor Sacha Baron Cohen has had a strong presence in the comedy world. Even his turn in Tim Burton's dark musical Sweeney Todd has a comedic touch to it. Now Cohen is taking the plunge into quite a serious role as Deadline reports the actor has signed on to play Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of one of rock and roll's greatest bands: Queen. The band responsible for hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You and Killer Queen will have their musical exploits chronicled in a feature film from Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan.
No director is yet attached to the project, but the film will chronicle the history of the band from their formative years up until their appearance at Live Aid in 1985 which is largely considered to be one of the greatest live performances of all-time. GK Films (who recently produced The Town) is behind the project which has luckily grabbed a rights package to Queen that includes all of the signature songs from the band's discography. In addition to their chart-topping, sing-a-long inducing tracks, remember that Queen is also responsible for the Flash Gordon soundtrack and Princes of the Universe, the pseudo-theme from Highlander.
The real question is whether Cohen will use his singing chops (that he quite adequately displayed in Sweeney Todd) to portray Mercury's signature voice. The lead singer is considered to be one of the best and most unique vocals in rock history, and while Cohen is certainly a chameleon on-screen, I think using Mercury's recorded vocals would be the best option. Apparently that decision won't be made until a director is brought on board. One decision that's locked is the conclusion of the story of Queen happening well before Mercury's 1991 death from AIDS complications. It's not just a Freddie Mercury biopic after all.
Perhaps that greatest part of this production, besides the talents of Cohen and screenwriter Peter Morgan, is the fact that every single surviving member of Queen (Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon) have formed a makeshift production company (appropriately called Queen Films) to produce the film themselves. It's unclear if the film will come together immediately after Cohen finishes production on Martin Scorsese's adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret or if his forthcoming dual role comedy The Dictator will come first. All I know, is Queen is one of my favorite bands, and I can't think of anyone better than Cohen to lead them. We'll keep you posted as this project develops. Interested?