Last month, Sacha Baron Cohen revealed the full story behind his decision to leave the forthcoming Freddie Mercury biopic. Or so we thought. In an interview with Howard Stern, the actor blamed a creative disagreement between him and the remaining members of Queen. He wanted to showcase Mercury through a grittier, more R-rated lens, while the band was looking for a more wholesome film focused on how Queen persevered after Mercury’s death from AIDS in 1991.
Today, Queen guitarist Brian May disputed Cohen’s account in an interview with the Daily Mail. “Sacha became an arse,” said May. “We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas but he went off and told untruths about what happened.” May especially took issue with Cohen’s claim that Queen wanted to turn the story of Mercury’s life into a PG-rated family film. “Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film? Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth?”
May also managed to work in a pretty sick burn about Cohen’s latest critical flop, The Brothers Grimsby. “We decided he wasn’t right for the role for very good reasons, which will become apparent if you watch what he’s done recently.” It’s unclear whether he was referring to the film’s raunch or its tepid box-office performance, but either way Queen will be moving forward with a new actor.
“We’re hoping Ben Whishaw will do it,” confessed May. “He’s fabulous — a real actor.”