Former ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ director: Sacha Baron Cohen’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury would have been “outrageous”

The comedian's version was said to focus on Mercury's "extreme lifestyle [of] debauchery"

Before its release, Bohemian Rhapsody was plagued with a series of set-backs – including a revolving door of directors.

One director who was linked to the project early on was Stephen Frears. In his early version of the Queen biopic, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was set to play Freddie Mercury – and Frears has now revealed that that particular version of the film would have been “very outrageous in terms of [Mercury’s] homosexuality”.

Speaking in a new interview with Vulture, Frears said the movie would have focused on Mercury’s “extreme lifestyle [of] debauchery” rather than his career with Queen.


“Sacha wanted to make a very outrageous film, which I imagine Freddie Mercury would have approved of,” said Frears.

Frears added that it would have been “outrageous in terms of his homosexuality and outrageous in terms of endless naked scenes”, adding: “Sacha loved all of that.”

Sacha Baron Cohen dropped Bohemian Rhapsody movie
Cohen was first linked with the role back in 2010

Last month, Queen‘s Roger Taylor opened up about why Baron Cohen was eventually dropped from playing the pivotal role.

At the time of his departure, it was stated that Cohen and Queen – who had script and director approval – were unable to agree on the type of movie they wanted to make. Cohen added that Brian May is an “amazing musician” but “not a great movie producer”.

“There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury,” he explained. “The guy was wild. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party.” However, Cohen learned that these stories would not make the film: “They wanted to protect their legacy as a band.”


Taylor said: “There was a lot of talk about Sacha and stuff. It was never really on. I don’t think he took it seriously enough — didn’t take Freddie seriously enough. But I think, really, it’s a long road, but we’re at the end of it now.”

The film has also been accused of straight-washing after a teaser trailer came under fire from writer and producer Bryan Fuller for not paying mind to Mercury’s bisexuality.

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