After working to develop the project for years, Sacha Baron Cohen abruptly dropped out of starring in an officially sanctioned Queen biopic back in 2013. At the time, the story going around was that the band wanted to do a “PG movie” that celebrated Queen, but Cohen wanted a more “gritty” and R-rated “tell-all” that would focus on Mercury. The biopic moved forward a little bit sans Cohen, with Ben Whishaw reportedly the favorite to replace him, but other than a new writer coming on board late last year, nothing has really come of the project yet.
Now, while promoting The Brothers Grimsby, Cohen is opening up a little more about why his involvement in the film fell through. In an interview with Howard Stern (via Entertainment Weekly), Cohen reiterated that the surviving members of Queen wanted a “PG-rated look at Mercury’s legacy,” while he would’ve preferred something that “fully explored Mercury’s wild lifestyle.” It goes further than that, though, because apparently at least one member of Queen actually suggested that Mercury’s death should happen “somewhere in the middle of the movie,” with the rest of the biopic showing how the band continued on without him.
Obviously, that idea is objectively the worst, with Cohen even arguing that “not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you see the band carry on.” He also went on to say that “[Queen’s] Brian May is an amazing musician…but he’s not a great movie producer.” Considering how much trouble this project has had getting off the ground—even though a Freddie Mercury biopic seems like a sure-fire hit—that plot issue could be the thing that’s holding it back.