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Sacha Baron Cohen Quits Freddie Mercury Biopic

Sacha Baron Cohen and Freddie Mercury
Larry Busacca, Fox Photos / Hulton Archive, Getty Images

One of the most perfect bits of biopic casting in recent Hollywood memory has reportedly come to an end.

Vintage Vinyl News reports that after more than three years of working on the project, Sacha Baron Cohen has decided not to star in an upcoming film about the life and career of deceased Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, citing creative disagreements with the film’s producers — a group that includes the surviving members of Queen.

As VVN puts it, the decision was made to “set a course towards a PG version of Mercury’s life,” frustrating Cohen, who was “more interested in an R-rated graphic film that delved into Mercury’s homosexuality.”

Cohen’s position isn’t at all unexpected, given that he made his reputation with controversial comedies like ‘Borat’ and ‘Da Ali G Show’; in fact, his willingness to push the envelope, along with his experience with Hollywood musicals such as ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Les Miserables,’ seemingly made him uniquely well-suited to play the flamboyant singer (it also didn’t hurt that Cohen bears a physical resemblance to Mercury).

The band’s reported desire to film a sanitized version of Mercury’s life is somewhat disappointing, but not surprising — from Ray Charles to Johnny Cash, pop stars have enjoyed the benefit of selective screenwriting memory when it comes to having their less family-friendly exploits adapted for the big screen. It’ll certainly be interesting to see who, if anyone, the filmmakers find to replace Cohen in the lead.

Next: Top 10 Queen Albums

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