WOULD FREDDIE MERCURY HAVE LIKED ‘BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY’?

Written by on October 25, 2018

Freddie Mercury would regard Bohemian Rhapsody as a “fair cop,” Queen guitarist Brian May said. The biopic, which opens in theaters on Nov. 2, stars Rami Malek as Mercury.

“I’ve seen it hundreds of times now, in fragments and eventually coming together, and it still gets me,” May told Classic Rock in a recent interview. “It’s very emotional. It’s all about Freddie. Yes, we are in there, but the story is about Freddie and that was always the aim.”

He added that  “obviously Freddie is so precious to us. One of the great breakthroughs early on was screenwriter Peter Morgan saying, ‘This is a film about family.’ It’s all about the stuff that happens in a family – some good, some bad, the going away, the searching for independence and then the nurture of the family.”

Asked if he thought Mercury would approve of the film, May said, “I think he would have felt it was a fair cop. It shows all his greatness and all his fallibility and insecurity – the whole bit. I think it shows him very truthfully and not sycophantically, but in a way that appreciates his talent.”

He described the singer as “unique.” “I’ve never met anybody like Freddie in my life, before or since, and it’s probably not going to happen again,” he said.

In our review of the film, UCR calls Bohemian Rhapsody “an entertaining movie, and one ultimately driven by Malek’s inspired performance, great music and Mercury’s larger-than-life story.”

Everything You Need to Know About the Queen Movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN / JEFF SPICER / JOSHUA BLANCHARD, GETTY IMAGES

They Are the Champions: Cast Chosen for Queen Film

The Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ co-produced by the singer’s Queen bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor, has been in the works for 12 years. After a variety of stumbling blocks, the film is set to begin production in fall 2017, with an anticipated Christmas 2018 release.

IAN TYAS / PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN, GETTY IMAGES

Rami Malek Takes on Lead Role

The star of USA Network’s ‘Mr. Robot,’ which has earned him much praise, will take on the film’s lead role, starring as Queen’s singer Freddie Mercury. Malek has previously starred in the ‘Night at the Museum’ trilogy and ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,’ but he got his start in TV with a recurring role on ‘Gilmore Girls’ in 2004. In 2010, he appeared on HBO’s ‘The Pacific.’

IAN TYAS / JEFF SPICER, GETTY IMAGES

Brian May Played by Gwilym Lee

Gwilym Lee (‘The Tourist’) has nabbed the part of guitarist Brian May. Lee is a longtime stage actor, having performed in the National Theatre’s production of ‘Oedipus’ with Jude Law in 2008. From 2013-15, he starred in the British detective show ‘Midsomer Murders,’ and in the recent British drama ‘Jamestown’ about the English colony in Virginia. “I’m very excited to say that I’ll be playing @DrBrianMay in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – the upcoming film about Queen! Right … I’m off to practice,” he tweeted.

IAN TYAS / JEFF SPICER, GETTY IMAGES

Ben Hardy Becomes Roger Taylor

Ben Hardy, best known for his role from 2013-15 in the British soap opera ‘EastEnders,’ will star as Queen drummer Roger Taylor. He is fresh off his performance as the Archangel in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ during which he must have impressed his director, Bryan Singer, enough that he hired him again. The biopic will reunite the pair. Meanwhile, Hardy is reportedly taking drumming lessons in preparation for the role.

IAN TYAS / JOSHUA BLANCHARD, GETTY IMAGES

Joe Mazzello Lands Role of John Deacon

Joe Mazzello, recently known for his work in ‘The Social Network,’ landed the role of bassist John Deacon. Mazzello was a child star who started out with a small role in ‘Presumed Innocent,’ and earning accolades for his performance in ‘Radio Flyer’ and the original ‘Jurassic Park.’ “This film is very exciting for me for many reasons. And yes, ‘Pacific’ fans, it is particularly special to be teaming up with Rami again,” Mazzello tweeted, referring to his work on the HBO show.

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Lucy Boynton Will Play Freddie Mercury’s Companion Mary Austin

Mary Austin was a lifelong friend of Freddie Mercury’s, who inspired 1975’s “Love of My Life.” She’ll be portrayed by Lucy Boynton, whose credits include ’Sing Street,’ ‘Rebel in the Rye’ and a remake of ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’

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Sasha Baron Cohen Is ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’

News broke back in 2010 that Sasha Baron Cohen, best known for his alter egos Borat and Ali G., would play the lead role in the film. But after lengthy disputes with Roger Taylor and Brian May — who are producers on the project — about the creative direction, Cohen walked away from the project in 2013. “I said, ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you see the band carry on,’” Cohen said about the movie’s alleged narrative structure. May disputed this, noting, “Sacha became an arse. We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas, but he went off and told untruths about what happened.”

JEFF SPICER, GETTY IMAGES

Bryan Singer Tapped as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody”s Director

Bryan Singer, known for his superhero films like the ‘X-Men’ series and ‘Superman Returns,’ as well as the thriller ‘The Usual Suspects,’ was chosen to direct the movie. “If you’ve ever seen Singer’s X-Men films, or the groundbreaking movie ‘The Usual Suspects,’ you’ll know this is a director with extraordinary imagination and style,” the band said in a statement.

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Justin Haythe Completed the Screenplay

Screenwriter and novelist Justin Haythe wrote the movie’s script. In the past, he penned the screen adaptation of ‘Revolutionary Road’ that reunited ‘Titanic”s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in 2008. His debut novel, ‘The Honeymoon,’ was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2004.

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Queen ‘Carry On, Carry On’

Sasha Baron Cohen may have objected to the film’s partial focus on Queen’s work following Mercury’s death, but the band has done quite a bit since then. Shortly before he died in 1991, Mercury recorded one last album with the band, ‘Made in Heaven.’ which was released posthumously in 1995. Queen continued to perform at a few tribute and award shows with a variety of guest stars, but finally found a semi-permanent lead singer in Paul Rodgers, who toured with the band for several years and released the album ‘The Cosmos Rocked.’ Then in 2009, after performing on ‘American Idol,’ Queen forged a relationship with runner-up Adam Lambert, with whom they’ve repeatedly toured since.

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Live Aid: ‘Spare Him His Life’

The band noted that their famous performance at Live Aid will be recreated for a key sequence in the film. The moment occurred in 1985, when Queen were slated to perform between bigger and more contemporary bands like U2 and David Bowie, with the Who and Elton John to follow. But Mercury rose to the occasion in a set that included “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the finale of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” “Every band should study Queen at Live Aid. If you really feel like that barrier is gone, you become Freddie Mercury,” Dave Grohl once said. “I consider him the greatest frontman of all time.”

KEVIN WINTER / HULTON ARCHIVE, GETTY IMAGES

Director Bryan Singer Suddenly Departs

Bryan Singer was fired in early December 2017, apparently because of several missed days. He was also said to have a strained relationship with Rami Malek, who plays Freddie Mercury. A new director was expected to eventually take over the production, which at that point apparently had about two weeks of principal photography left. Singer later issued a statement saying the studio refused to let him care for a sick parent.

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Dexter Fletcher Assumes Directing Duties

Dexter Fletcher, an early directing candidate for the Queen movie, was chosen to replace Bryan Singer just days later. An actor for more than 40 years, Fletcher had previously helmed a pair of films, 2012’s ‘Wild Bill’ and 2016’s ‘Eddie the Eagle.’ His return put the production back on track. Instead of being on hold until the new year, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ almost immediately resumed filming. The premiere date remained December 25, 2018.

PHOTO CREDIT: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Two Stills Released

Twentieth Century Fox released a pair stills from the movie and screened a trailer for the press at CinemaCon. The official synopsis said that the film “traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound, their near-implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. In the process, cementing the legacy of a band that were always more like a family, and who continue to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day.”

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Behind the Scenes Photos

Queen created a “Behind the Scenes / On the Set” series on their Instagram feed to take fans inside the making of the movie beginning with handwritten lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a shot of a bulletin board with “the flyer that started it all.” They also revealed that the band’s official archivist, Greg Brooks, worked closely with the production to make every detail as authentic as possible, right down to the type of socks Roger Deacon was wearing!.

20TH CENTURY FOX

First Trailer Released

On May 15, Queen released the first trailer for the movie. Cut to a mashup of four Queen classics, it features 90 seconds of footage, including replications of concerts, recording sessions and the band’s rise to fame. A significant portion of the trailer focuses on the recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

JOE SCARNICI / HULTON ARCHIVE, GETTY IMAGES

Bryan Fuller Accuses Movie of ‘Hetwashing’

After the release of the trailer, writer/producer Bryan Fuller (the ‘Star Trek’ television franchise) noted that it “features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men.” Fuller, who is gay, referred to it as “hetwashing” – the changing of a gay character to a straight one – and done for marketing purposes. Sacha Baron Cohen, who had first been hired to star in the movie, had also previously accused the band of wanting to sanitize Mercury’s sexuality.

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Second Trailer Released

On July 17, Queen gave us another glimpse of the movie in the form of a second trailer. The two-and-a-half minute clip shows Mercury introducing himself to his future bandmates, their uphill climb to stardom and more recreations of concerts and the recording of some their biggest hits.

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Freddie Mercury’s Voice Used in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Producer Graham King revealed that the vocals used on the Queen songs on the soundtrack were a combination of Mercury’s and new tracks recorded by a Canadian singer named Marc Martel. “Literally, you could close your eyes and it’s Freddie,” King told ‘Rolling Stone.’ “And that’s a very tough thing to do.”

MATT WINKELMEYER, GETTY IMAGES / 20TH CENTURY FOX / HULTON ARCHIVE, GETTY IMAGES

Adam Lambert Discusses Rami Malek’s Portrayal of Freddie Mercury

Current Queen frontman Adam Lambert said that the producers made the right choice in casting Malek as opposed to him. “I don’t look like Freddie. I don’t sound like Freddie. I sound like me,” Lambert told ‘Entertainment Tonight.’ “Rami looks amazing. He’s a great actor. … So it’s really about recreating Freddie. So no, it wouldn’t have been me. … He’s really good in the film too, very sensitive portrayal.”

20TH CENTURY FOX

Details of the Soundtrack Released

The band announced that the soundtrack, which will be released Oct. 19, is going to feature new and live versions of the band’s best-known songs. This includes four songs from their Live Aid set, which has never been officially released, “Now I’m Here” from the 1975 Christmas Eve show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Brian May recorded new guitar parts to “Don’t Stop Me Now” and a version of “Doing All Right,” which hails from May’s and Roger Taylor’s days in Smile, with lead vocals by that band’s original singer, Tim Staffell.

20TH CENTURY FOX/ DAVID LIVINGSTON, GETTY IMAGES

Mike Myers Has a Role

Unrecognizable behind a wig, sunglasses and facial hair, Mike Myers plays EMI executive Ray Foster. Myers famously introduced “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a new generation when he included it in a famous scene in 1992’s ‘Wayne’s World.’

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