Freddie Mercury film faltering?
Is the Freddie Mercury film going to get made? Usually the problem with biographical films about famous musicians and bands are the rights, obtaining them either to the music or to the person themselves and while the filmmakers are keen to move forward the person, the widow or the estate are often not, and a film about a musician without rights to the music isn't going to work.
However that's not the problem with the Freddie Mercury film as it seems that the band won't approve the script or the director, the problem appearing to be the direction and tone of the film, and now there's word that the leading actor may just have left the project.
Freddie Mercury, as if he needs any introduction, was the enigmatic lead of the band Queen, one of the biggest bands ever, and his story was going to be told with the backing of the band who were keen to have a film made. They were going to have approval over the film in many of the key areas and that seemed to be the right thing to do.
Sacha Baron Cohen was lined up to play the great Freddie Mercury and, according to reports from Deadline through The Playlist, was responsible for bringing in Peter Morgan to write the script and with him various directors to be approved by the band, names they say included David Fincher no less.
However that vision was for a gritty and hard hitting realistic retelling of his life, one that would explore more of his personal life to counter the outward image of Queen and of Mercury, looks to be different from the vision the existing band members have.
According to the report Sacha Baron Cohen has pulled out of the project and will no longer be playing Mercury, unless the band change their ideas of course, but for now it looks like they'll be after someone else to play the man himself.
What concerns me here is that if the film wasn't going to be a bold look at Mercury's personal life and his struggles outside of the music reflecting in the songs and performances then what would it have been? What would be left? A film about him writing iconic songs with the band and then performing them? That sounds more like a concert film.
Perhaps they were going to go into his personal life but just not present it as dramatic as it might have been, or perhaps was. In that case it almost seems destined to fail from the beginning appealing only to the Queen fans and not to a cinema audience. Mind you saying that there are a lot of Queen fans and they would do really well from that film alone.
While there's a building furore about Cohen allegedly leaving the production he isn't the only actor who could play him. Sure there's a strong familiarity about him but he's not the only singing actor out there and we have seen time and time again unlikely actors occupy the role of a real person with makeup, costumes and effects making us easily believe.
The issue here isn't whether Cohen will play Mercury or not, other actors can take the role and make us believe, the question is what kind of film is being chased for this Freddie Mercury story - Biographical or retelling?