20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Mr. Robot's Rami Malek stars in the film as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, the iconic British vocal artist known for his extravagant performance style and his incredible vocal range. Bohemian Rhapsody explores Queen's rise to fame starting in the 1970s, fueled by Mercury's singing onstage and threatened by his activities off the stage. Bringing the other members of Queen to life in the film are Gwilym Lee as lead guitarist Brian May, Joseph Mazzello as bass guitarist John Deacon, and Ben Hardy as drummer Roger Taylor. Lucy Boynton further rounds out the ensemble as Mercury's lifelong companion, Mary Austin.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw were set to play Freddie Mercury at different stages in the movie's development, prior to Malek's casting. Cohen's vision for the film was reportedly very "adult" in tone and clashed with what the surviving members of Queen had in mind, leading to the actor's departure. Bohemian Rhapsody's synopsis promises the biopic won't shy away from Mercury's "out of control" lifestyle either, but will wrap things up on a triumphant (if bittersweet) note by concluding with the band's famous reunion at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Mercury's health began to rapidly decline in the years that followed and he passed away from complications due to AIDS in 1991.
Queen's music is as much the star of the Bohemian Rhapsody trailer as the band itself, with "Another One Bites the Dust", "Killer Queen", and "We Will Rock You" all making appearances (along with, naturally, the eponymous tune). The trailer is pretty rapid fire in its editing and combines flashbacks to Queen's past with footage of the group in concert. Clearly, the intent is to capture the electrifying atmosphere of a Queen performance, rather than rehash the familiar story beats of a band meeting for the first time, exploding in popularity, and dealing with the complications that come with fame. It will fall to the next trailer to slow things down and better lay out the story at hand.
Bohemian Rhapsody spent a long time stuck in early development and its journey to the big screen didn't get any easier after it went into production. Bryan Singer took a break from the X-Men franchise to direct the Queen biopic, but he reportedly clashed with the film's cast (including Malek) during filming and was fired when he failed to show up to set for several days without an explanation. With Singer also facing multiple allegations of sexual assault, Fox was probably all the more happy to bring in his replacement Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle), the director who had been previously attached to the project back when Whishaw was starring as Freddie Mercury.
In spite of these difficulties, Bohemian Rhapsody has a lot going for it. The script was written by Anthony McCarten, who picked up multiple Oscar nods for his efforts on the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything and Winston Churchill memoir Darkest Hour. Many would further argue that, all talk of allegations against Singer aside, Fletcher is a better choice of director for the Queen biopic anyway. Malek has also impressed with his transformative performance as Mercury in the Bohemian Rhapsody images released so far, and that remains the case in the first trailer footage.
Source: 20th Century Fox
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