Queen opened the Academy Awards with Adam Lambert on vocals. Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic based on the life and legacy of the band’s late original lead singer Freddie Mercury, is up for five awards at this year’s ceremony, including Best Picture.
Guitarist Brian May was the first to appear on stage, shredding on his guitar to the iconic beat of “We Will Rock You.” Lambert joined, paying homage to Mercury’s gravity-defying vocals and unmistakable showmanship. The audience remained on their feet for the rousing song before the group went into the celebratory “We Are the Champions” as the now-seated audience swayed arms in unison. An image of Mercury was shown behind them as they wrapped up the performance.
Prior to the film’s release in November, Bohemian Rhapsody had been in the works for nearly a decade with Sacha Baron Cohen originally tapped to portray Mercury. Eventually, Rami Malek, who is up for Best Actor, signed on for the film in 2016. In 2017, the film was nearly left in a lurch when director Bryan Singer was fired by Fox following extended absences from the director. With only a few weeks left, Dexter Fletcher stepped in to direct the remainder of the film.
Singer and the film have faced more controversies since the film was released. The director, who is still credited because of Director’s Guild of America rules, has faced a number of sexual assault allegations which were detailed in a report published by The Atlantic. The film itself has been criticized for its approach to Mercury’s sexuality and personal life. In spite of the controversies, Bohemian Rhapsody has become the biggest-selling biopic of all time.