Brian May has said it would have been “a disaster” if Sacha Baron Cohen had played Freddie Mercury

"I think we realised just in time what a disaster that was going to be"

Queen’s Brian May has said that it would have been a “disaster” if Sacha Baron Cohen had played Freddie Mercury in this summer’s hit biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Speaking in a new interview, May said they realised “just in time what a disaster” casting Baron Cohen would have been.

He said: “[It] was a near-disaster. I think we realised just in time what a disaster that was going to be. And it actually wasn’t rocket science to figure that out. But yeah, that’s one of the rocks that we nearly hit. I think we were all nervous in the beginning, when the casting process was going on. Because yes, that’s a real tough thing to contemplate – somebody playing the part of you.


“The guy who plays me, Gwilym Lee, I spent a lot of time with him, so he understood me. He’d be picking up my mannerisms and what makes me tick. So when Freddie and me are in the studio, confronting each other, it’s very real. Some of it was improvised, but they did it with the knowledge that they understood us from the inside out.”

May also went onto say that he thought Mercury would have approved of the film. May said: “I think he would have felt it was a fair cop, really. 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. Because he was sure was unique. I’ve never met anybody like Freddie in my life, before or since, and it’s probably not going to happen again.”

May also hinted that a sequel might happen when asked why the film didn’t continue beyond the Live Aid concert in 1985.

“We felt [Live Aid] was the pinnacle – despite what some people have said in the press, who know fuck-all about it… This is all about Freddie, and I think Live Aid is a good point to leave it. Who knows, there might be a sequel [laughs].”


Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Recently, actor Rami Malek defended Bohemian Rhapsody for showing “the whole” Freddie Mercury story.

Speaking to The Hollywood ReporterMalek said that they wanted to show everything they could in the biopic but were constrained by the “two hours” they had to tell the story.

Malek said: “In those two hours I know that those men want to celebrate Freddie’s life, and there was definitely a cognisant effort not to make this a hedonistic, salacious film.

“I think we all would have loved to show more of Freddie’s relationship with Jim [Hutton] toward the end of his life. That relationship was absolutely gorgeous, and if I had it my way, boy, would I love to tack on another hour to this film and fill in a few gaps.”

He added: “It’s never going to be perfect in fulfilling the story of a man who we could make countless documentaries about and countless miniseries about.”