Brian May denies that Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury in Queen biopic

The guitarist says that previous comments made by his manager were in jest

Sacha Baron Cohen will not portray Freddie Mercury in a new biopic film, says Queen guitarist Brian May.

The project has been in development for the past six years and was recently put on hold due to alleged arguments between Baron Cohen and surviving Queen members May and Roger Taylor about the tone and approach of the film, culminating in Baron Cohen leaving the project two years ago.

Yesterday, it was reported that Queen’s manager Jim Beach confirmed the “important breakthrough” of Baron Cohen’s renewed involvement after he received the Peter Grant accolade for Outstanding Achievement at the Artist and Manager Awards in London last week. However, now May has taken to his official website to confirm that this was a “joke”.

May writes: “[There was] a small joke that Jim threw in during his acceptance speech. He said that, in response to [inquiries] about the progress on the Freddie feature film, that Sacha Baron Cohen had been re-engaged to write, produce, and direct the film, as well as starring in all four major roles! I’m afraid some folks might have taken it seriously!”

May had previously denied that Baron Cohen left the project on bad terms at the time, telling Classic Rock, “It’s quite difficult to talk about because we owe Sacha a lot. He had so much enthusiasm for the project and it really helped us kick it into the start position. But in the end we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting.”

Other names rumoured to have replaced Baron Cohen in the lead role include Skyfall actor Ben Whishaw and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, the latter quickly denying rumours, saying: “I am completely wrong for that part!”

The film doesn’t appear to have a schedule or potential release date.