Update: Brian May has since denied that Sacha Baron Cohen will be involved, saying on his official website that his manager was joking. Read the full story here.
Sacha Baron Cohen will helm the Freddie Mercury biopic already seven years in the making – despite turning his back on the film in 2013 because of “creative differences” with band members.
“You have probably followed the saga of the famous Queen-Freddie Mercury biopic which has been developing in Hollywood for the last seven years,” Queen’s manager Jim Beach told an audience at the Artist and Management awards in London on Thursday night.
“An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star.”
After Baron Cohen walked out on, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor explained that they thought the actor – who is best known for playing outrageous comic characters Ali G, Borat and Bruno – would be “distracting.” They also reportedly objected to Baron Cohen’s desire for a gritty, warts-and-all biopic centred on Mercury, and instead wanted a softer film about the whole band.
May championed Ben Whishaw as a replacement and The Hour and Skyfall was subsequently confirmed in the role. At one point Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe was also rumoured to be a contender.
It’s believed the film will chronicle the band’s early years including their performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert but will not show Mercury’s premature death of Aids in 1991, aged 45.
Baron Cohen has yet to officially confirm he’s back on board.