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“Bohemian Rhapsody” opens in theaters nationwide November 2 with “Mr. Robot” Emmy winner Rami Malek starring as Queen frontman and rock legend Freddie Mercury, but nearly a decade ago it was “Borat” comedian Sacha Baron Cohen who was planning to step into the role for a Mercury biopic. Cohen’s movie started as an idea from “The Crown” creator Peter Morgan, who began working on a script in 2010 about Queen and the buildup to the band’s legendary Live Aid performance.
The project ultimately attracted “The Queen” director Stephen Frears, who recently looked back at the unmade project during an interview with Vulture. Cohen first courted the likes of “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper and David Fincher to direct the film before Frears landed the job. The director said Cohen’s vision for the film was explicit and true to Mercury’s spirit.
Sacha - Film - Freddie - Mercury - Frears
“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.”
With Cohen set to star as Mercury, the project attracted Sony. “I’m not sure whether Sacha was attached from the very beginning of Sony’s involvement, but there was definitely a period where [he] was meant to star and he and the studio met with directors,” a former Sony executive said. “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...
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