The Queen guitarist said that Cohen's exit wasn't prompted by a script dispute, but by the comic actor's larger-than-life persona
The planned biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury's life has been in discussion for three years now, with comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen in line to star as the late singer since the very beginning of the project. The biopic was thrown into disarray in the summer however, when it was reported that Cohen had been booted from the project, with little explanation for his exit. This week, Queen guitarist Brian May looked to shed some light on what happened.
Freddie Mercury is revered as one of the finest rock frontmen of all time
"It's quite difficult to talk about because we owe Sacha a lot," May told Classic Rock in it's latest issue. He went on to say, "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."
May went on to say, "What led us to that conclusion was the last three movies that he's made – The Dictator, Les Miserables and Hugo – in which he makes outstanding performances, but they're very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances. And we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie. You have to really suspend that disbelief – the man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn't think that could really happen with Sacha. That's not any criticism of his talent whatsoever, it's just a feeling that it was not going to work – that the pieces didn't fit together anymore."
Sacha (L) is "too distracting," says May (R)
The badger-loving guitarist went on to discuss the rumours that surrounded Cohen's exit that said that he left following a script dispute with May and drummer Roger Taylor. May denied that the Ali G star left the project on bad terms, saying "It's a shame that there were these sensationalist stories about him walking out. None of that was true... We remain friends with Sacha and hopefully there will be another project that we will work on together in the future."
May went on to insist that, despite the absence of a lead actor, the project is still in good shape and that the production team behind the project are closing in on their lead man. During Friday's (18 Oct.) edition of The One Show, drummer Taylor revealed that Skyfall actor Ben Whishaw is among the top contenders for the role. Since then, no other word on the potential star of the biopic has been made.
Ben Whishaw is now being targetted for the role