Why Sacha Baron Cohen Didn’t Play Freddie Mercury
Back in 2010, it was announced that Baron Cohen had been set to star as Mercury in ‘ Bohemian Rhapsody’. However, several things happened from September 2010 until 2012 when it was announced that Cohen was pulled out of the project. As we all know now, ‘ Bohemian Rhapsody’ was a massive hit and Rami Malek got a well-deserved Oscar for his performance of Freddie Mercury. Not only that Malek won the Oscar for the Best Actor, but he has made history by becoming the first actor of Arab heritage to win this prestigious award and world-wide recognition.
But, if Cohen continued with the role of Mercury would he be the one to take Oscar home that night or not? Well, some things are meant to remain a mystery until the end of time. On the other hand, we know for sure why Cohen was pulled from this long-expected project.
Cohen Loved The Project
Cohen was thrilled about his role of Freddie and it seems that he had an exact vision of how the movie will look and how he will contribute to this role. At the time of the departure, it was stated that Cohen and the Queen, who have script and director approval, were not unable at the time to agree on the type of movie they wanted to make. In addition to that, Cohen added that ‘Brian May (leading guitarist of the Queen) is an amazing musician but not a great producer.’
Cohen loved everything that he learned about Mercury during his research and preparation for the role. Cohen especially loved his wild side. He explained: ‘There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party.’ But, at one moment Cohen learned that these stories would not make the cut and it was opposite of his vision for the movie. Also, he stated that ‘They (Queen) wanted to protect their legacy as a band.’
According to Cohen, their separation was a matter of creative differences. Now, when he thinks about that project, he admitted that he should’ve known from day one and first meeting with the band that they will have creative differences.
The First Meeting
Cohen remembers that during their first meeting ‘A member of the band, said, this is such a great movie because it’s got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle of the movie.’ Until this day we don’t know who that member of the band was. Cohen was intrigued by this sentence and asked the band member what happens in the middle of the movie, and that band member replied, ‘Freddie dies.’
According to Cohen, that was the first moment that made him think about his role here, because it was clear that the band wanted to preserve the memory of the band and not Freddie. But regardless of this meeting and initial doubts, Cohen continued to work on the movie for years to come. He even brought big TV names, including the screenwriter Peter Morgan, as well as directors Tom Hooper and David Fincher.
Cohen was tightly linked to the Mercury biopic in 2010 and easily dropped out in 2013. That same year, in 2013, Queen’s lead guitarist Brian May explained that the split by saying that the band ‘felt that Cohen’s presence would be distracting…’ He also stated that the man who plays Freddie, needs to believe is Freddie. Simply said, the band didn’t think that could happen with Sasha.
At the end of the day, it was really about creative differences. Cohen wanted to present Freddie, not that much Queen because he was more than fascinated with him as a person. On the other hand, it seems that it was too much for the band as they wanted to preserve that mutual Queen picture that everyone had about them.
To make everything worse, Freddie would probably approve the creation of a very outrageous film and the portrait of his extreme lifestyle. That kind of movie would probably be outrageous in terms of Freddie’s homosexuality and naked scenes. It is known that Cohen loves to present characters as they were.
During one interview Taylor stated that he was scared that Cohen wasn’t serious enough about his role, that he didn’t take it seriously enough, or Freddie. Moreover, there was a long road between them and several things happened. After all, it seems that everything turned out as it should. The ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was accused of straight-washing and that’s for sure not the type of a movie that we would love to Cohen in.