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Queen’s Roger Taylor reveals why Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t end up playing Freddie Mercury

Sacha Baron Cohen arrives for the Premiere Of Disney's Alice Through The Looking Glass held at the El Capitan Theatre on May 23, 2016 in Hollywood, Calif.
Sacha Baron Cohen arrives for the Premiere Of Disney's Alice Through The Looking Glass held at the El Capitan Theatre on May 23, 2016 in Hollywood, Calif. Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

The show must go on, right?

Following the exclusive world premiere of the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, Roger Taylor revealed why Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t stay to play the lead role of Freddie Mercury, which was finalized with Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek.

The drummer spoke to the Associated Press on Wednesday to set the record straight. “It was never really on [with Cohen]. I don’t think he took it seriously enough — he didn’t take Freddie seriously enough. I think it’s [been] a long road, but we’re at the end of it now.”
(L-R) Rami Malek, Brian May and Roger Taylor attend the world premiere of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Oct. 23, 2018, in London, England.
(L-R) Rami Malek, Brian May and Roger Taylor attend the world premiere of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Oct. 23, 2018, in London, England. Mike Marsland / WireImage

READ MORE: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ cast members reveal how they transformed into Queen

Cohen signed on to the feature way back in 2010 when it had been announced. After more than two years, he pulled out in mid-2013 due to creative differences with Queen.

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The active band members played a key role in creating an on-screen adaptation of their career; one that wouldn’t tarnish their legacy. They worried that Cohen would opt to take the film in a raunchier direction as one of the main writers. It was revealed he wanted to include the drugs, debauchery and sexcapades.

Following Cohen’s departure, guitarist Brian May said to Classic Rock Magazine that he left on good terms, adding:

“In the end we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting. The man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn’t think that could really happen with Sacha.”

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After years of much uncertainty, directors and writers came to and fro. Even actor Ben Whishaw was set to play Mercury for a while. Come February 2016, Bryan Singer (X-Men) took the reins as director and brought on Malek for the lead role. Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle), stepped in last minute to conclude the directing duties with no further changes.

WATCH BELOW: Brian May on Rami Malek, “He’s amazing! Thank God we found him.”

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Premieres In London
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Premieres In London

READ MORE: Does movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ ignore Freddie Mercury’s sexuality? Rami Malek clarifies things

Since the world premiere on Oct. 24, Malek’s performance has been praised heavily; however, some fans remain sour about Cohen’s departure. Many were convinced Malek couldn’t pull off Mercury’s flamboyancy, whereas Cohen was thought to be perfect for the role.

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Critics and Queen die-hards alike took to Twitter to share their thoughts.

Although he left on good terms, Cohen was sad to leave the project. He admitted he thought May was a great musician but “not a great movie producer.” On a 2015 episode of The Howard Stern Show, he explained:

“There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild.” He added, “There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party. But they wanted to protect their legacy as a band.”

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LISTEN BELOW: Sacha Baron Cohen on working with Queen on Bohemian Rhapsody

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With a constantly rotating circus of cast and crew members all under pressure, Bohemian Rhapsody finally wrapped production only a mere few weeks ago. As Taylor said, “it’s been a long road.”

The long-awaited biopic follows the life and inception of Queen right through to their legendary performance at Wembley Stadium for Live Aid in 1985.

(L-R) Photo of QUEEN; Roger Taylor & Freddie Mercury.
(L-R) Photo of QUEEN; Roger Taylor & Freddie Mercury. Rob Verhorst / Redferns

READ MORE: Does ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ ignore Freddie Mercury’s sexuality? Lucy Boynton speaks out

You can pre-order advance tickets for Oct. 31 screenings in select Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal Cineplex theatres.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is scheduled for a Nov. 2 release in Canada.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca
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