Rami Malek replaces Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury in Queen biopic

The Emmy-winning Mr Robot actor is the latest to ask: is this real life, or is it just fantasy?

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It looks like troubled Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody may finally have found its Freddie Mercury.

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Mr Robot star Rami Malek is the latest actor to sign on to the project which has been in the works for eight years with a string of actors attached to play the band’s flamboyant frontman.

Malek’s attachment to the project comes with the news that X-Men director Bryan Singer is also in talks to come on board ahead of a scheduled shoot date of 2017.

The role caps off a stellar year for Malek whose portrayal of vigilante computer hacker Elliot Alderson in the US drama earned him an Emmy Award for Lead Actor in a Drama in September ahead of the likes of Kevin Spacey, Bob Odenkirk and Matthew Rhys.

However, the Queen biopic comes with plenty of baggage. The Freddie Mercury role’s most recent incumbent was Sacha Baron Cohen whose acrimonious departure generated plenty of column inches earlier this year when he told US radio host Howard Stern that disagreements with members of Queen had led to his decision to quit:

“A member of the band – I won’t say who – said: ‘You know, this is such a great movie because it’s got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle,’ Baron Cohen revealed.

“And I go: ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes: ‘You know, Freddie dies.’ … I go: ‘What happens in the second half of the movie?’ He goes: ‘We see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’

“I said: ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from Aids and then you see how the band carries on.’”

May hit back at his comments, saying the actor had behaved like an “arse” and had “told untruths about what happened.”

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After Baron Cohen’s departure, Ben Whishaw was attached to the role with Dexter Fletcher set to direct, but that line-up also fell apart, with rumours over the years also linking the likes of Dominic Cooper and Daniel Radcliffe with the role.