By Kevin Winter/.
After years of fits and starts, public media squabbles, and numerous casting changes, the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek, is actually starting production, according to the legendary band. The group released a statement on their website on Friday, alerting fans that yes, “it IS finally happening.”
Director Bryan Singer (numerous X-Men films, The Usual Suspects) will helm the film—“a perfect choice to recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid, which we can reveal will be faithfully recreated for a key sequence the film,” the band gushed. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor will both serve as executive producers.
Malek, the Emmy-winning star of Mr. Robot, will play the late, legendary Freddie Mercury in the film; he is “completely living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful,” May and Taylor note in the statement.
The release also assures fans that pre-production will begin this week in the U.K., and principal photography will start in London “as soon as mid-September.”
Despite the confidence of the statement, fans still have some reason to doubt the veracity of these start dates, considering all the ups and downs this film has suffered. The biopic has gone through numerous iterations, starting with a version that was supposed to star Sacha Baron Cohen and went into development in 2010. The actor dropped out of the project a few years later due to creative differences. In an interview with Howard Stern last year, Cohen revealed that he just didn’t see eye-to-eye with May and Taylor—he wanted to focus on the band’s wild rock ‘n’ roll past, while May and Taylor wanted to focus on Queen’s legacy and post-Mercury career (the singer died in 1991). The duo also nixed many of Cohen’s director choices, he says, like Oscar winners David Fincher and Tom Hooper, as well as screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon).
In a follow-up interview, May disputed Cohen’s claims, saying the comedian “became an arse.”
“We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas, but he went off and told untruths about what happened,” he said. “Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film? Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don‘t think so.”
Since Cohen left the film, actors like Ben Whishaw have floated up as potential replacements, but nothing ever came to fruition. The band’s statement is the strongest they’ve put out in years in regards to the film—but considering its torturous route to theaters, fans have reason to remain cautious and ask themselves two questions: Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?
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