It’s been more than 27 years since Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991, and finally the story of this rock icon’s life and the story of his band Queen is coming to movie theaters. The film has been aptly named Bohemian Rhapsody and it will premiere on November 2, 2018. With the release of the first trailer from the biopic, it looks like the wait will have been worth it.
The movie focuses not just on Mercury, arguably one of greatest singers, songwriters and producers in rock history, but also on Queen’s music and performances from its beginning to its performance in 1985’s Live Aid concert.
Freddie’s death due to complications of AIDS in 1991 will also be addressed, but the film reportedly focuses more on celebrating his life rather than focusing on his tragic death. Band members Brian May and Roger Taylor helped produce the film to keep the story on track.
The final lineup of actors for the film, includes: Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) as Freddie Mercury, Gwilym Lee (Midsomer Murders) as Brian May, Joe Mazello (The Social Network) as John Deacon, and Ben Hardy (X-Men: Apocalypse) as Roger Taylor. Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) plays Mercury’s personal manager Paul Prenter, and Lucy Boynton (Sense and Sensibility) portrays Freddie’s lifelong friend and companion, Mary Austin.
Bohemian Rhapsody had a rocky time getting made. In September 2010, Sacha Baron Cohen, a close Freddie lookalike, was prepared to play the lead. Talks with him ended when Cohen had a falling out with Brian May in 2013. A spokesman for Queen said, “The man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn’t [think] that could really happen with Sacha.”
Writer Peter Morgan (of Frost/Nixon) was attached and then detached. More actors and directors came and went. Members of the band wanted Ben Whishaw, (“Q” in Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies). Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter) was rumored in consideration which Daniel shot down as ridiculous.
By November 2015, another writer, Anthony McCarten of The Theory Of Everything was hired to rewrite Morgan’s script. Director Dexter Fletcher, who signed on to the project in 2013, left in 2014 over creative differences. Those differences were reportedly over whether the movie would be R-rated, or what Fletcher thought was more of a sanitized portrait of Freddie and the band.
In 2016 Rami Malek took over the lead role. Success in transforming Malek’s appearance as Freddie dramatically helped his confidence.
“When you’re able to open your eyes and see a different person staring back at you in the mirror, it’s a very affirming moment,” said the actor.
Musically, copying Freddie’s four-octave vocal range was a tremendous challenge and the production will blend elements of Malek’s voice with Freddie’s as well as the voice of a Freddie sound-alike artist.
X-Men director Bryan Singer got the production underway and almost finished. By the end of 2017, Singer left the set for the Thanksgiving holiday and didn’t return. Halting production, Twentieth Century Fox fired director Singer weeks before the film wrapped.
Singer’s absence was attributed to a personal health matter, which later was explained as a need to care for a sick parent. Luckily for the production and fans, director Dexter Fletcher was convinced to return to the production to replace Singer. Fletcher directed the final two weeks of shooting and completed all reshoots and post-production requirements.