Sacha Baron Cohen was deemed too ''distracting'' to play Freddie Mercury.

The 'Borat' star had been due to portray the late Queen frontman in a planned biopic, but recently departed the project and the group's guitarist Brian May says it is because the comedian is too ''recognisable'' to audiences from his previous work.

Brian told the Daily Mirror newspaper: ''It seemed like a good idea in the beginning but the truth is, he's too recognisable. He's very much a style and a character.

''I think that he would have been very distracting. That's the conclusion we came to.''

Brian also admitted movie bosses are now ''close'' to finding a replacement.

It was recently claimed that 'Dead Man Down' actor Dominic Cooper is in the frame to play the 'I Want To Break Free' star, who died of complications from AIDS in 1991.

And Daniel Radcliffe has also been linked with the role but the 'Harry Potter' actor has insisted he wouldn't be able to properly portray the flamboyant star.

He said in August: ''Everyone on the internet who I presume is saying I'm totally wrong for that part is correct. I AM completely wrong for that part!''