A Queen movie biopic is officially happening at last. Queen enjoyed a long run throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s as one of the more significant bands of the rock era. They had hits that included “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and many more that have endured, from classic rock radio to sports stadiums, to this day. Perhaps the biggest element of Queen’s success was Freddie Mercury, one of rock’s most talented, flamboyant and charismatic frontmen.
Mercury died of AIDS-related complications in November of 1991, but Queen’s music remained popular, especially after “Bohemian Rhapsody” was included in a famous scene in Wayne’s World, the following year. The following decade, talk began that a biopic of Mercury and Queen was in the works. For a long time Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to play Mercury, but that version fell apart in 2013, due in part to friction between the actor and the surviving members of Queen; a subsequent attempt, with Ben Whishaw attached, never got off the ground either. Now, the Queen film is officially on.
Queen announced on its official website this week that the film, to be titled, Bohemian Rhapsody, is a go. Bryan Singer (of The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns and numerous X-Men films) is attached to direct, while Rami Malek - best known for TV’s Mr. Robot - will play Mercury. The surviving Queen members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, are on board as executive producers, with Queen's music included in the film.
That lineup had been reported as a possibility last November, but now Queen’s official website has confirmed the details, along with the news that preproduction is underway as of next week and the film is “‘as-close-as-that’ to shooting, and that the band’s 1985 Live Aid performance will be a key part of the film. It’s unclear if the film is set up at a studio, who has written the script, or whether any of the plans from a few years ago have survived.
The version with Sacha Baron Cohen, which we’ll now likely never see, sounded like as perfect a casting combination as is imaginable. Baron Cohen looks like Mercury, we know that he’s able to sing and show commanding presence on stage - and Baron Cohen has shown throughout his career isn’t the slightest bit squeamish about nudity, gay sex scenes, acting out a death from AIDS, or anything else likely to be included in a Freddie Mercury biopic.
Malek is a talented actor who it’s not hard to imagine as Mercury, while Singer is a capable director who has made some great movies. The bigger worry is, with the surviving bandmates producing, whether the film won’t be as uncompromising as it perhaps could be.