Ray Charles got one, John Lennon got one and pretty soon Elton John will be getting one too, so it might be argued that a biopic about rock legend Freddie Mercury is long overdue. Development of the film has been delayed multiple times, but now signs indicate that we could see Mercury’s story told on the big screen as early as 2015.
One of the main issues so for has been that the remaining remembers of Queen are insisting upon the biopic being PG-rated in tone, which means that certain aspects of Mercury’s life would have to be glossed over or omitted altogether. The film will not cover his diagnosis with AIDS or his eventual death, since it would conclude with the band’s Live Aid concert in 1985, and it’s highly doubtful that it could show Mercury’s party lifestyle in too much detail without risking the wrath of the MPAA.
According to Deadline, the film is now going ahead with the script by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) that at one point seemed to have been ditched, but presumably will have simply undergone a few changes. Sacha Baron Cohen was originally set to play Mercury and was responsible for bringing Morgan onto the project. He also attracted Oscar-winning directors David Fincher and Tom Hooper, both of whom left the project before Cohen eventually abandoned it as well.
It’s a role that Dominic Cooper was recently rumored to be in talks for, but now the part of Freddie has officially been taken. Deadline reports that Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) will play the singer, and Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill) will direct the biopic, which is set to begin filming next year regardless of whether or not Sony chooses to take it on as part of the studio’s first look deal with production company GK Films.
Whishaw is a solid choice for the lead and Fletcher has experience making musical movies thanks to his second feature film, Sunshine on Leith, which was a biopic about Scottish band The Proclaimers. Despite the troubled development of Mercury’s biopic so far, this latest news does offer some fresh hope for it.
Perhaps Brian May and co. can be convinced to lift some of the restrictions on the script to avoid the risk of it becoming toothless. After all, Mercury is said to have made the deathbed request, “You can do what you want with my music, but don’t make me boring.”
We’ll keep you updated on the Untitled Freddie Mercury Biopic as development continues.