Fight Club director David Fincher has reflected on the Freddy Mercury biopic that never was, revealing that Sacha Baron Cohen made for a “spectacular” leading man.
A near-decade before we were subjected to the god-awful, milquetoast film that was Bohemian Rhapsody, Sacha Baron Cohen was slated to play the role of Freddie Mercury in a David Fincher-directed adaptation of the pop legends life.
Cohen’s film stemmed from an idea from The Crown creator Peter Morgan, who began penning a script about the era of Queen before their landmark Live Aid performance. Cohen was in talks with a number of director legends, including The Kings Speech director Tom Hooper and David Fincher before deciding that My Beautiful Laundrette director Stephen Frears would be the man for the job.
Unfortunately, the project never came to fruition. Sacha Baron Cohen ultimately left the project, citing artistic differences between the studio and the remaining members of Queen. In an interview with Vulture, Frears reflected on the unmade film:
“Sacha wanted to make a very outrageous film, which I would imagine Freddie Mercury would have approved of,” Frears said. “Outrageous in terms of his homosexuality and outrageous in terms of endless naked scenes. Sacha loved all of that.”
“You could always tell there would be trouble with the rest of the band,” added Frears. “Because [Sacha] was so outrageous and they weren’t. They were much more conventional.”
In a recent episode of The Director’s Cut podcast, Oscar contenders Fincher (Mank) and Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) took part in a discussion that delved into their relationship with the Borat star.
Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Youth International Party founder Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7. “At first I was really nervous [about Cohen playing Hoffman]. And then I found him to be so winning,” shared Fincher.
“He’s so deft and specific,” Fincher said of Cohen. “He’s such an intellect about the things he’s doing. He’s so thoughtful. He’s so quiet and thoughtful and chooses his words so specifically.”
The director then went on to recall his experience working alongside Baron Cohen on the early stages of the Freddie Mercury biopic.
The conversation turned to Fincher’s own experience with Baron Cohen during the early stages of the Freddie Mercury biopic, reflecting on the test shots of Cohen in costume “Dude, you have to see…these photos are spectacular.”