Sacha Baron Cohen, who at one point was cast to portray Freddie Mercury in a since-stalled Queen biopic, recently revealed the huge creative differences behind his exit from the project. A month after Cohen told his side of the story, Queen guitarist Brian May has contradicted the actor’s allegations in a new interview with The Daily Mail.
“Sacha became an arse,” May said. “We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas, but he went off and told untruths about what happened.”
According to Cohen, from the onset, both sides had disagreements over the direction of the biopic: Cohen wanted to make a truthful, salacious film that focused on the “amazing stories” of Mercury’s “extreme lifestyle,” while the surviving members of Queen had a different idea entirely.
“A member of the band, I won’t say who, he said, ‘This is such a great movie because it’s got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle of the movie,'” Cohen told Howard Stern Show in March. “I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies,'” with the remainder of the film focusing on Queen’s resiliency following Mercury’s death in 1991.
However, May denied Cohen’s allegations. “Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film,” the guitarist said. “Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don’t think so.” May also stood by the biopic’s decision to part ways with Cohen “for very good reasons, which will become apparent if you watch what he’s done recently,” a knock on the actor’s latest comedy The Brothers Grimsby.
In November, when the Queen biopic was revived with a new screenwriter, it was rumored that producers sought actor Ben Whishaw to play Mercury in the film. May confirmed the band’s interest in casting Whishaw, calling him “a real actor” compared to Cohen. May added that producers still haven’t lined up a director to helm the biopic.