Sacha Baron Cohen has left the movie biopic of iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury after a disagreement over the direction of the project. Cohen - who bears a dramatic resemblance to the singer - had wanted to make a gritty R-rated drama about the star's life, enlisting David Fincher and Tom Hooper to develop the project.
However - as is always the case with approval of Queen projects - the remaining members of the band were concerned about the movie's potential effect on Mercury's legacy and seemingly wanted to make a sugar-coated PG movie.
According to Deadline.com, the living members of Queen, including Brian May, rejected British writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) as the writer, as well as both Fincher (The Social Network) and Hooper (The King's Speech) as directors.
The movie is set up at Sony Pictures and GK Films, with Cohen having been attached to play Mercury for years. However, because of the 'creative differences,' no formal offer could go out to Hooper, who was the first choice to direct following his Best Picture Oscar nomination for Les Miserables, which starred Sacha.
Graham King and Tim Headington are producing the film, with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and Queen Films.
Back in 2006, Brian May confirmed that De Niro's company was in talks with Johnny Depp to play the role of Mercury. Describing the actor as "fantastic," he added, "He would be a worthy counterpart for Freddie on screen. I don't think I can say any more right now."
Given Depp's recent run of poorly performing movies, he may be tempted to reignite talks over the biopic, which is almost guaranteed to be a box-officer winner.
The Queen frontman had a close friend, Mary Austin, whom he lived with for several years though he was fairly open about his homosexuality. He lived with Jim Hutton for the final six years of his life.
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Sacha Baron Cohen Has Walked Away From The Project