A long-in-the-works Freddie Mercury biopic is finally moving forward with Bryan Singer serving as director and Rami Malek playing the legendary Queen frontman. What’s more, they’ve landed on a title for the film: Bohemian Rhapsody.
For years, Sascha Baron Cohen had been attached to play Mercury, but he pulled out of the project after butting heads creatively with the surviving members of Queen. In a 2013 interview with Howard Stern, Cohen explained that he wanted to make a gritty, unfiltered R-rated film, whereas Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor wanted a more harmless, PG-rated telling of the frontman’s life.
“The problem is — and I think it’s with any biopic, and I fully understand why Queen wanted to do this — if you’re in control of your rights and your life story, why wouldn’t you depict yourself as great as possible?” Cohen said at the time.
Cohen and Queen also disagreed on the narrative arc of the film. Queen wanted Mercury’s 1991 death to fall in the middle of the film; the remaining half would be dedicated to how the band dealt with the aftermath and continued on without him. However, Cohen didn’t believe that plot would resonate well with audience members.
Following Cohen’s departure from the project, Ben Whishaw was floated as a possible replacement. Ultimately, Fox/Regency landed on the Emmy Award-winning star of Mr. Robot.
Singer, the creative force behind The X-Men cinematic universe, will direct Bohemian Rhapsody using a script penned by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything). Graham King (The Departed, Allied) is producing.