In a BBC interview to be shown later this month Queen guitarist Brian May confirms the long circulated rumour is true, that Borat and Ali G actor Sacha Baron Cohen will play the role of Freddie Mercury in a film to be written by Peter Morgan, whose previous works include the Oscar-nominated screenplays for The Queen and Frost/Nixon.
It’s surprising how few biopics about famous musicians actually get made. No-one has yet made a serious stab at a film about the life of Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain, for example, despite that those musical biopics which have been made, such as Walk the Line about the life of Johnny Cash and the story of Jim Morrison in The Doors, have turned to box office gold.
Freddie’s early life before Queen is a fascinating subject unto itself. The film promises to start in this era and work up to the band’s now legendary performance at Live Aid. Mercury was well known as a flamboyant and occasionally outrageous character, on the vibrant late 1960s London fashion and musical scene, well before he joined the group at first named 1984, later changing to Smile, before settling on the now globally recognised Queen.
The glam-rock scene of 70’s Britain, should give Sacha Baron Cohen plenty to get his prominent front teeth into, although Queen fan forums are already abuzz with the slight worry that the filmmakers might chose to use re-recordings of the classic tracks, using Cohen’s own voice, rather than the original hit recordings, which started in 1972 with Liar and Keep yourself Alive, into 1975 with Bohemian Rhapsody and up to 1984 and the release of Radio Ga Ga and I Want To Break Free.
Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have kept the Queen flame burning since Freddie’s death with extremely lucrative projects, such as a Ben Elton penned stage musical and numerous remasters of back-catalogue and previously unreleased recordings made before the singers passing. Bass player John Deacon retired from public life after the band’s last performance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS awareness in 1992. It remains to be seen if Deacon will break his long held silence on post-Freddie Queen projects, since he publicly condemned the plan for a new Queen album to feature the vocals of ex-Take That singer Robbie Williams.