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Sacha Baron Cohen quits Freddie Mercury film

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Borat star has bowed out of forthcoming biopic over creative differences with Queen singer’s former bandmates, reports say

Sacha Baron Cohen has quit a high-profile forthcoming biopic of Freddie Mercury after “creative differences” with the singer’s band, Queen, reports Deadline.

The Borat star apparently walked after his vision of a racy treatment depicting Mercury’s famously salacious lifestyle was at odds with the more family-friendly approach desired by the singer’s erstwhile bandmates. Cohen, who was due to play the flamboyant singer in a rare dramatic role, had brought in Peter Morgan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Queen, to work on the script and lined up film-makers of the calibre of David Fincher or The King’s Speech‘s Tom Hooper to potentially direct.

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The film – which is based on the life story of one of the most iconic singers of the 20th century, and with an awards season-friendly team in the background – had all the ingredients of a strong contender for Oscars glory. Gay themes have never been more popular with film-makers at a time when the campaign to recognise same-sex marriage is making progress in the western world. Sean Penn won the best actor prize in 2009 for his portrayal of the slain gay politician Harvey Milk, and Michael Douglas would have been a likely contender for next year’s awards had Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra, not fallen foul of Oscars rules by screening on TV first in the US.

Cohen also bears a strong resemblance to Mercury, who died of Aids-related illness in 1991, although at 6ft 3in, the British actor is a good six inches taller than the Zanzibar-born singer.

The Mercury biopic will go ahead with another actor. Its producers include Graham King and Robert De Niro.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013


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