Sacha Baron Cohen worked on the troubled biopic on Freddie Mercury for six years, writing a screenplay and talking with numerous directors to get it off the ground. This was all for naught, though, and the Borat actor left the project for good near the start of 2015. The reason back then revolved around some differences he had with Queen during the pre-production process, with the band wanting a tame portrayal of the singer and Cohen wanting to focus on his wilder side.
Now, thanks to an interview on Howard Stern, the actor has revealed some of the details behind his departure. The demands of the band are odd, which is the least you could you say. Apparently Cohen believed they were trying to be experimental with their idea at first, but soon discovered the awful truth according to Rolling Stone:
“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 recalled. “I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.'” While Cohen assumed the band meant the film would be structured non-linearly like Pulp Fiction, he soon realized that they wanted the second half of the film to focus on how Queen carried on after Mercury’s death in 1991.
Yes, people would definitely want to see a Freddie Mercury bio showing Queen hit the road with Paul Rodgers from Bad Company, create a Broadway musical, or tour with Adam Lambert after the subject of the film dies. Makes perfect sense.
Cohen goes on to explain that he understands their reasoning, but it’s not the film he wanted to make. And the best part about all of it, the meeting described above wasn’t even the end of his connection with the movie. He stuck around for a bit with conflicting reports until finally dropping out of the film.
You can listen to the snippet from Howard Stern below. Really can’t deny how entertaining Stern is as an interviewer, especially his complete lack of concern with hiding names or being proper.