Before Rami Malek landed his Oscar-winning role as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, actor/guerilla comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was originally attached to the part before exiting after a disagreement with the band. According to founding Queen member Roger Taylor, that move was for the best because he feels Cohen would’ve been terrible as Mercury, and that’s putting it nicely.
“I think he would have been utter sh*t. Sacha is pushy, if nothing else,” Taylor told Classic Rock magazine before elaborating on his thoughts.
“He’s also six inches too tall. But I watched his last five films and came to the conclusion he’s not a very good actor. I might be wrong there. I thought he was an utterly brilliant subversive comedian, that’s what he’s great at. Anyway, I think Rami did a brilliant job in an almost impossible role.”
Taylor’s harsh criticism jibes with Cohen’s reason for exiting the Mercury role. Back in 2016, Cohen explained to Howard Stern that he left the project after having creative differences with the remaining members of Queen who reportedly wanted the last half of Bohemian Rhapsody to be entirely about them.
“A member of the band, I won’t say who, he said, ‘This is such a great movie because it’s got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle of the movie,'” Cohen told Stern. “I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.'”