The Rami Malek-fronted Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody has received lukewarm reviews for being a pretty conventional rock biopic of one of the least conventional frontmen of all time.
But according to director Stephen Frears, who almost made a version of the movie with Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie Mercury, the Borat star’s plans were considerably more radical.
“Sacha wanted to make a very outrageous film, which I would imagine Freddie Mercury would have approved of,” Frears told Vulture.
“Outrageous in terms of his homosexuality and outrageous in terms of endless naked scenes. Sacha loved all of that.
“It was a biopic of Freddie more than the story of the band, although a portion of the structure dealt with the ups and downs of the band, but always from Freddie’s POV.”
Frears goes on to say that the project ended up falling foul of Queen stars Brian May and Roger Taylor, who were showing ‘a certain amount of caution’ over the direction Baron Cohen wanted to take it, and kicked back at plans for a ‘gritty, R-rated tell-all’.
“You could always tell there would be trouble with the rest of the band,” Frears went on.
“Because [Sacha] was so outrageous and they weren’t. They were much more conventional.”
Cohen too has said that he ended up falling out with May and Taylor, who he claims wanted to make Freddie’s death not the end of the film, but the mid-way point.
“Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see the band,” Cohen told Howard Stern after he exited the project.
May later hit back at the Ali G actor, calling him ‘an arse’, and accusing him of lying about what happened between them.
“Sacha became an arse,” he told the Mail on Sunday. “We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas, but he went off and told untruths about what happened.”