Sacha Baron Cohen Leaves Freddie Mercury Film After Queen Clash

July 23, 2013

Sacha Baron Cohen / Freddie Mercury

Borat and Brüno star Sacha Baron Cohen has been attached to a biopic about Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury since September of 2010. However, any real development on the project has been scarce with the most recent update surfacing in March about director Tom Hooper circling the project. Now a report from Deadline comes with some troubling news that Cohen is leaving the project over creative differences with the surviving members of the band (Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon), who are producing the film and have script/director approval. The problem is how they want to tell Mercury's story.

Reportedly, the band is looking for a more PG movie about Queen and Mercury while Cohen was hoping to tell a more dramatic, gritty story with all the details on display, for better or worse. Cohen has been trying to make the project work with a script from The Queen and Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan and directors like Hooper and even David Fincher, but that didn't do it for the classic rock band. Honestly, it's easy to see why the band wants a more fluffy story about their history, but if you're turning down Oscar winning/nominated talent like Morgan, Fincher and Hooper, then something is wrong. Cohen is the spitting image of Mercury, not to mention having impressive singing chops, so it'll be interesting to see if this project ever gets off the ground without him. What do you think?

Find more posts: Casting, Development, Movie News



Oh. I was actually really looking forward to this.

Krishna Shenoi on Jul 23, 2013


Yeah i was really looking forward to this. Cohen was perfect and has the singing ability! Hopefully it doesn't get made without him unless they get similarly inspired casting. I liked the idea of a grittty, honest portrayal of Mercury as opposed to a Disney-fied one.

Linkfx on Jul 23, 2013


Cohen was so perfect I couldn't really see anyone else in the role. I doubt he has a four octave range, but they could fix that in post. Maybe they need to look to Asia for their lead?

Lars on Jul 23, 2013


Been looking forward to this! Bummer! I certainly don't want to see a PG rated version! Mercury had a lifestyle that deserves a R rated! No comedy, please!

The Truth on Jul 23, 2013


sweet a disney biopic of queen. Now its gonna go to Brett Ratner and Gerard Butler will play Mercury. Cant wait! good job guys.

C on Jul 23, 2013


Sacha Baron Cohe, David Fincher what a combination i hope this gets done the way Sacha wanted it but i guess the band doesn't want it that way,

Francis.F on Jul 23, 2013


"Can anybody find me...some body to...LOOOVVVEEE?!"

DAVIDPD on Jul 23, 2013


judging from the amount of time you spend on this site - i'd say you definitely need some assistance in this regard......seriously - there is life outside of this site!

whisker on Jul 24, 2013


I am curious why you decided to insult me with this comment? Although not as vulgar as it could have been I do not appreciate it at all. I visit because I find its contents to be fun and inviting. Alex and Company are passionate about film, and so am I. Yes, I check FS many times per day and make short comments on posts, but what is so wrong about that? There are about four or five people who comment regularly here on FS. I was not being negative or inflammatory and you decided to make dig at my expense. Maybe you were just trying to be funny, but you weren't. I apologize if you weren't trying to be mean.

DAVIDPD on Jul 24, 2013


mean? dig? offense intended. i was just agreeing with your comment - i noticed you are LITERALLY on EVERY thread on this site - it sounds like you DO need some help finding some REAL life action. again - it wasn't meant as an insult - bro, get out in the real world and live life! i love movies too - however, i don't live on the internet - the WWW is a fine thing - but don't let it consume your life! so, good luck and i hope you find more to life than what's on the 'net.

whisker on Jul 25, 2013


Thanks for clearing that up. My original comment was just meant to quote a great song by Queen, the band Freddie Mercury sung for. I know every one is entitled to their own opinion, but life advice on a film website is not wanted, nor necessary. If you notice, my comments are rarely more than a ten words long. I get messages when a new post is up and I try and make a quick comment pertaining to the story. That's it. There a couple other dudes here that leave huge multiparagraph comments, those dudes are the ones to question, not me. I always try and stay positive with my comments and only comment negatively when something really sticks in my cray. Thanks for worrying about my social life though! Haha. I know what it looks like, but trust me when I say my needs are met. That is all. 😉

DAVIDPD on Jul 25, 2013


I am not even the biggest fan of Queen and was looking forward to this. If Cohen had put half the dedication into playing Mercury as his own characters he would have been phenomenal. And good for him not backing down to the surviving members who want to do a lame fake family friendly version of them film, which is probably for sales more than anything. All those 13 year old's discovering classic rock can not pay for admission if its a realistic gritty rated R film.

jacobcrim on Jul 23, 2013


I'm more interested in the story of Freddie, more than just the story of Queen. A "fluffy PG" biography sounds nauseating to me.

Zach on Jul 23, 2013


Cohen made the right choice.

Xerxexx on Jul 23, 2013


hey, buddy! it's me - GF and i just got back (3 weeks ago) from walking the Camino de Santiago! the last 3 weeks have been kind of a headache trying to get back to the normal routine. it took us 8 weeks - we really took the time to take in the scenery and enjoy the local cuisines. we used a french route (due to it being considered very safe and clearly marked) . it was too amazing to try and discuss here but the scenery was unbelieveable. i also liked how friendly everyone you meet seemed to be (except for the occasional drunks and annoying stoners). the language barrier was a problem but we found many people we could talk to along the road. also, the food was awesome too - every region had it's distinct styles and flavors - good times! we stayed in hotels whenever we could and tried to sleep out as much as possible - those roadside places to sleep were not the greatest - too many people had awful body odor - and with everyone stuffed into one common sleeping area - peeyoo!.....then there was the snoring!!! i hope you make it there some's an amazing trip!!! we're sure we'll be going back and do it again at some point - not sure if we go the same french route or try another way. i'm not using this site anymore - before we left i started using "" - it has the most extensive trailer list of any site i've ever been to; plus, it's updated frequently - and that's really all i need. i remember both of us saying we were going to do this walk some time and just wanted to let you know we made it. i hope you do it too (if you haven't already)

beevis on Jul 24, 2013


Oh lucky man! I am literally dying to walk the Camino! congratulations on making it safely, I am going to do it myself...just need the fiances to fall in order. How was the weather? I want details! But I understand if some of it is too personnel or something you and your girlfriend want to keep private. Anyways I am very stoked the two of you got to experience the turn will come, there is not a doubt in my mind that I will set foot to trail and complete the journey. I definitely hope you'll still visit from time to time, I am loyal to and you know I will be here. I've checked out and it may become a back-up site if Billington and friends ever turn. Don't fall back into the normal routine too soon.

Xerxexx on Jul 26, 2013


i bookmarked the page in case you had some questions. certainly there was nothing -private on this trip! first hurdle was to decide where to start and get plane tickets - no easy task when trying to get the best prices. we wanted to start in a place called arles....but trying to get transportation there from paris was proving to be problematic - so, we decided to start in paris - the plane ticket price ended up decent (2700 dollars each for -presummer "special"...or so they said) we did take taxis that got us out of paris proper and from there on - we were hoofing it. the bordeaux area was especially beautiful and i could have stayed in that region and enjoyed the food/wine the whole time - fresh bleu cheese is amazing (if you like a strong cheese..which i do!) a favorite mid-day snack for me: glass of red wine, ounce of bleu chees and fresh bread -YUM!...and if extra hungry - get some fish or chicken with it. once in pamplona - main course food for us centered around lamb, seafood (fish, mainly) and chicken. of course, spain has lots of excellent cheese, nuts, olives and breads too! wonderful wine can be had for very little cost - we didn't see the point of buying expensive wine. the scenery is beyond description - such great architectural and natural beauty! as you walk, you'll contunually happen upon statues and monuments. beautiful churches and monestaries are everywhere. we did leave the main road as well to visit a few impressive castles as well. what really affected me the most was just the hour to hour scenery we looked at as we walked - beaufiful grasses mixed with rugged stone. roads that climbed up, up, up and next thing your looking out over a valley that seems to stretch for miles with beautiful farmland....seeing this type of thing is a very moving experience that is difficult to describe - i can only say you won't be disappointed. i don't want to leave out that there are small towns and some villages that are kind of dumpy looking and some you definitely won't want to spend a lot of time in...but that's the way it is anywhere you go. the weather - was never bad at all - although we did get caught in our share of downpours - i had the idea to take a small tarp with us to try and protect us from this type of thing - it worked pretty darn good too! temp wise - 70F to mid 80s...pleasant - but still work up a sweat walking all those miles. we will be doing the walk in winter the next time we go (fingers crossed since i don't know when we'll do it) so i'll be doing some research on how that might go before we would attempt it. i would say that if you were trying to be frugal during the entire trip - you might get by on 800 dollars per person per month. (once there of course - this does not count air fare, visas or any equipment you buy). our cost was, for the 2 of us, (not counting air fare was around 8000 dollars but we weren't trying to be overly frugal and did stay in some nice hotels and ate at some very nice restaurants. i'll give you one guarantee - once you finish the entire trip, you'll already be thinking about doing the whole thing again. gotta stop now - too much typing and i gotta start mowing grass before it rains - see ya!

beevis on Jul 27, 2013


Them more information you give the determined I get to commit to the cause! It sounds breathtakingly beautiful the way you describe the scenery. Gotta get there. The food sounds amazing...and the costs are not impossible to afford. No matter what I am going to walk the Camino. If you want to continue feeding me info or just want to chat here's my email, feel free.

Xerxexx on Jul 27, 2013


i don't want to romanticize it too much but it's hard not seemed like such an adventure - not knowing what we'd find next - i'll say this - coming to the end and getting your passport stamped is VERY bittersweet.....we were happy to have done the trip but we both felt a little down that there wasn't any more road to travel. if we ever do it again ( and we want to) we'll be trying it in winter. however, that (weather-wise) might be more than we want to try - we're both going to be researching the weather patterns to see if it's something we want to try. btw -we have a HUGE backlog of movies we haven't seen! we just watched "brass teapot" and oz: the great and powerful" and loved them both. oz in particular - i really liked the cast (and was pleasantly surprised at how well franco did with the role - i had my doubts) and the story left me wanting more!!!

beevis on Jul 29, 2013


I imagine I will feel the same way at the end. Email, I got a few my number one is or both I actively check so hopefully they do their jobs.

Xerxexx on Jul 30, 2013


tried your yahoo email - hope it finds ya!

beevis on Aug 12, 2013


Alrighty let me see if I got it.

Xerxexx on Aug 13, 2013


email as you wrote it didn't work - i put in and it DID work....hope it went to you.

beevis on Jul 29, 2013


Damn. When I heard he was taking that role, I knew he'd be perfect. I'm with Cohen on that decision. His film would have been much more interesting than some watered-down kids flick.

grimjob on Jul 23, 2013


I think the idea behind the rated PG version is that it's what the band believes Freddie Mercury would want. Mercury was apparently a very private person and wouldn't want all the gory details of his life exposed. He's dead and the filmaker's should do what the remaining members want. They are the ones who knew Mercury the best. If Cohen doesn't agree, he did the right thing by leaving.

Chuckee Knowlton on Jul 23, 2013


I want to respect the band and what they perceive to be Mercury's wishes, but DAMN, this would have been a fantastic film. The best biography pic yet, with all that talent! This goes on the sad top of my "what could've been" list...

jedi77 on Jul 24, 2013


I really don't understand the excitement of having Cohen play Mercury. Cohen made his career off exploiting racial stereotypes and mocking cultures. Whether you find him funny or not, he is not exactly the most genuine performer. Freddie deserves someone with the same good spirited will. Strong, but good-natured. AND just to be clear, the remaining members of Queen are most likely the people in this world that KNEW Freddie the best. So, if they insist that we not exploit Freddies dark moments for Sacha Cohen's oscar reel, I say go with Brian May. We are not entitled to Freddie Mercury's life secrets just because he's dead.

jpeters1138 on Jul 24, 2013


DOA as of now.

Johnny Neat on Jul 24, 2013


That awkward moment when Sacha Baron Cohen is taking shit more seriously than you. He's one talented and intellectual actor. It's too bad the movie's not going down the way he posited it because Freddie's story is one that should be told and told for what it was.

gpak on Jul 24, 2013


Just watch 'When Freddie Mercury Met Kenny Everett' on YT instead.

cobrazombie on Jul 24, 2013


Good job remaining Queen members, you may have killed your chance at being a part of a potential Oscar winner. "Oh noes, we can't have all our secrets put out there!" Pussies.

Fatal Error on Jul 26, 2013

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