Director Bryan Singer issued a statement defending himself after he was dropped as director of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. One of the strangest stories of the movie year continues to unfold, on the set of the long-in-the-works biopic of the seminal British rock band Queen. Singer was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody Monday, days after reports that production had been shut down due to clashes on set between Singer and star Rami Malek and the director’s extended absences from the set.
The reports additionally stated Singer had failed to return to the set following Thanksgiving, and in fact had also had mysterious disappearances on other films of his in the past, such as Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse, though it was never reported in the press, or prevented him from getting work in the meantime. Now, Singer is striking back against these stories.
Singer released a statement Monday defending himself against the reports, stating that the reason for his absence was that he needed to leave the film to deal with the “grave” illness of a sick parent. According to the director’s statement, which was issued to THR, he also denied feuding with Malek had anything to do with his departure. Read the full statement below:
“I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first… Bohemian Rhapsody is a passion project of mine. With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control.”
In a separate update to the developing story, THR reported Singer’s production company Bad Hat Harry are vacating their offices on the 20th Century Fox lot. The director had a first-look deal with the studio that ended in October, but was extended for the duration of Bohemian Rhapsody. Given Fox let Singer go from that production, it seems the studio and the director’s company are cutting ties entirely.
There’s a bit of an elephant in the room when it comes to this story, which is that, though there has been a wave of accusations of sexual harassment and abuse in recent months, Singer has been accused of just that on more than one occasion in the past. The lawsuits have been dismissed, and there’s been no major journalistic exposé of Singer in the vein of the Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, James Toback or Louis C.K. stories. But the director’s name continues to surface in connection with the subject, such as when Jessica Chastain called Singer out on Twitter recently. No one involved has said that the accusations against Singer have anything to do with his sudden departure from Bohemian Rhapsody, but the rumors certainly cast a shadow over the situation.
The other side of this is that the Queen biopic, starring Malek as Freddie Mercury, after years of fits and starts that involved various stars and directors coming and going from the project, now faces even more turmoil and uncertainty. However, the film is only weeks from completion, so presumably a new director will be brought in to supervise the rest of the shoot as well as post-production. Bohemian Rhapsody has a scheduled release date in December 2018, but whether the turmoil will cause that to change remains to be seen.
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