Forums > Queen - General Discussion > The Freddie Mercury Biopic Was Sacha Baron Cohen's Idea, Plus More Details

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mickyparise user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 11 Oct 10, 05:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Peter Morgan is one of the busier screenwriters working today, as his two Oscar nominations for Frost/Nixon and The Queen have him in demand for seemingly every high-caliber film that comes down the pipe. His latest effort Hereafter is now a film directed by Clint Eastwood coming out next Friday, but he's got any number of exciting projects coming up, including the one I was most curious to ask about when I interviewed him today-- the untitled Freddie Mercury biopic.

We learned last month that Morgan was scripting the biopic for Sacha Baron Cohen to star as the legendary Queen frontman, and he revealed to me today that Baron Cohen isn't just perfect casting, but the entire project was his idea-- "Sacha was the one who asked me to write it. He was the guy who rang me up." I asked him why the movie was intended to focus more on Mercury's musical career than his personal life-- including dying of AIDS in 1991-- and Morgan gave me a frank answer:

I didn't want to write an AIDS movie, to be honest with you. And then, I just looked the period-- It's sort of where he rejects [the other members of Queen] and comes back to them. It's sort of like a family movie. It's sort of like I hate my family, I want to be independent, and then I come back.



The surviving members of Queen-- Brian May
, Roger Taylor and John Deacon-- are collaborating on the project as producers, and though Morgan said he would use their input to recreate the history of the band, it wasn't going to be a puff piece or even necessarily show them in a good light:

I'm not sure how much they'll like what I write. I think they'll recognize the truth in it, but it's a series of painful memories for them. I'm essentially writing about the most painful time in the band's history.



The time he's referring to is the period leading up to the famous 1985 Live Aid concert, when the band took time off from touring before facing harsh criticism for performing in South Africa during the apartheid era. Presumably Morgan will be exploring some of the conflicts within the band at the time, though as he explained, "I'm only on page 56" of the script, so there's plenty of time for all of this to change.

He also wasn't certain whether or not Baron Cohen would be performing the songs or simply lip-synching to Mercury's original songs, but seemed as enthused as I am about how perfect Baron Cohen is for the role. The Freddie Mercury project is still set to start production in 2011.

We'll have the rest of my conversation with Morgan on Hereafter, including why he never expected a star as big as Matt Damon to play his role, posted tomorrow, so come back to check it all out.

http://www.cinemablend.com/new/The-Freddie-Mercury-Biopic-Was-Sacha-Baron-Cohen-s-Idea-Plus-More-Details-On-The-Project-21119.html


R.I.P. PRINCESS

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Posted: 11 Oct 10, 10:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Peter Morgan says:

I'm essentially writing about the most painful time in the band's history.


Um... no he's not.  The movie ends at 1985.

Otherwise, the concept and chosen time period of the movie sounds great.


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Posted: 11 Oct 10, 12:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I like the idea. I imagine something like this:

"Hot Space underperforms, Queen fails to fill out arenas in the U.S., they take some time off, they make a 'comeback' with The Works but the relationship between band members is not too good. Freddie goes solo but eventually goes back to the Mothership. Queen is back on top form in Live Aid. The End."

Hopefully there will be flashbacks to select periods in the band's history and it will end in a bittersweet note because, eventhough we see Queen "conquering the world" again, everybody knows how the story ended.

In Borat's voice: "NIIIIICEEEE!!"

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Posted: 11 Oct 10, 17:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Wiley wrote:

everybody knows how the story ended.

In Borat's voice: "NIIIIICEEEE!!"
Yeah, that will be sad. Still, like Morgan said, it's not an AIDS movie. I think it's better that it isn't, cuz that would almost necessarily make the rest of the script feel like it was leading up to it or make it poorly written. Plus, all the hype about it would revolve around the sickness at the end & it would be a sob story. I'd like to think it's not all gonna be drama.

XD Exactly what I thought when I first heard Cohen was doing this! Farrokh: Musical Learnings of England for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Zanzibar. 

I really hope they have Cohen lipsync with either Freddie's voice or an impeccably close singer. I have a feeling when I first see pictures of Cohen dressed in a leotard or leather shorts, I'm going to wet myself over how much he looks like Freddie. I pray we get to see the shoot from IWTBF! I would hate to see the entire movie revolve around Freddie's sexuality, though I'm sure it will at least touch on it, which is good. As for the music, we'll obviously get most of the hits, but I'd like to think they'll throw in 1 or 2 non-singles in the movie for us Queenies.

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Posted: 11 Oct 10, 23:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote: Peter Morgan says:

I'm essentially writing about the most painful time in the band's history.

Um... no he's not.  The movie ends at 1985.

Otherwise, the concept and chosen time period of the movie sounds great.
===================================

Do you think it's impossible that 1986/87 and beyond was not the most painful time in the band's history?  I don't think that's impossible.  While there was a lot of personal pain during those last years, it seemed that as a band a lot of the tensions of the past fell away due to the realities they were facing. The shared writing credits and the fortress they built around Freddie seem to speak to a renewed closeness and a shift in priorities.  In the first interview after Freddie's death Roger said that although making Innuendo was hard and poignant, there was a lot of joy as well. 

Anyway, I do like the sound of where this script is going, preliminarily at least.

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Posted: 12 Oct 10, 02:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I very much like that the film will be focussed on the music and the band rather than Freddie's lifestyle - although as he met Jim in those years, and that along with his clubbing etc.. in New York and Munich is as much what led to the tensions in the band as much, if not more so, than the working environment.

The only worry for me - which is unfortunately unavoidable with films about real people - is that certain fictional dialogue and events will be created by the writer and director to 'sex it up', and the general public will assume that these events and conversations actually took place and may paint the members of Queen in an unrealisitc light.  As I say though, that's unavoidable.

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Posted: 12 Oct 10, 09:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

So Freddie rejected the band, then came back to them?
I had a slight chill down my spine when i read that bit. I hope to god its not going to a Brian May egomaniac film! With Freddie leaving the band to pursue a solo career, his solo career being a flop, then returning to Lord May with his tail between his legs. I could actually see this happening.

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Posted: 12 Oct 10, 10:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

so basically they are going to falsify stuff to make a movie? I knew there was a reason why i wasnt keen on this

If they are saying that Freddie rejected the band to make a solo album are they going to cover the same story for Roger making an album before Freddie did?

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Posted: 12 Oct 10, 12:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It is disappointing that the time period selected for the movie misses the mark. If you want show the true Freddy, show him after he found his true love (Jim), his struggle with fidelity, coke, his creativity and the health impact on his life, love, and existance with the band. It could also show the fair weather friends and those who betrayed him, used him, and those who stood by him til the end. He had quirks, some lovable, an artists temperment, and the last challenging period of his life, when he reflects, seems to be a much better choice for the film. I have read several books and feel Jim's would make the best basis. May, Deacon and Taylor are great musicians, but this is about Freddie. When he died the band fragmented and never made it back..that says a lot.

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Posted: 12 Oct 10, 16:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well people, I mean, the liner notes of Mr. Bad Guy did thank Brian, Roger and John for "staying out of this"

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Posted: 12 Oct 10, 19:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

TyinPalmSprings wrote: It is disappointing that the time period selected for the movie misses the mark. If you want show the true Freddy, show him after he found his true love (Jim), his struggle with fidelity, coke, his creativity and the health impact on his life, love, and existance with the band. It could also show the fair weather friends and those who betrayed him, used him, and those who stood by him til the end. He had quirks, some lovable, an artists temperment, and the last challenging period of his life, when he reflects, seems to be a much better choice for the film. I have read several books and feel Jim's would make the best basis. May, Deacon and Taylor are great musicians, but this is about Freddie. When he died the band fragmented and never made it back..that says a lot.
"The true Freddie" is Freddie from all time periods. There is no 1 time period where he was more Freddie than another one; you can't help but be yourself. I think Morgan just doesn't want the movie to be the sad, decline of the artist movie of the year; even if the movie spanned Queen's entire career, the trailers for it would just make it out to be a depressing tear-jerker all because of the end. At least, this way, the audience doesn't end up remembering Freddie for his illness & death, but for his music and love.

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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 02:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

GratefulFan wrote:

"Do you think it's impossible that 1986/87 and beyond was not the most painful time in the band's history?"

I highly doubt there is even a remote chance that there was any single time between 1970-1990 that was more difficult for them than November 1991 through April 1992.  But you're right about the Innuendo sessions.  It was a great time for them.

As for the movie including the detail of Freddie rejecting the band and crawling back - that may not be far from the truth.

Freddie's solo album as a whole was a major departure from Queen, but there were many parts that were very Queen-like.  It has been documented that Freddie asked his musicians to play certain parts the way the members of Queen did (particularly his guitarist), and they came up well short.  The first half of 1985 was probably the lowest point of their career as a band, and they were going through the motions on stage.  This solo album (particularly the thank you in the liner notes) likely did not help their relations.

After the album flopped, Freddie may have realized he was best as part of the collective, and Live Aid was the vehicle that made it apparent.  If it wasn't for Live Aid, it's quite possible the band may have broken up after the Works tour.  Next to releasing BoRhap, those 17 minutes were probably the single most pivotal moment of their career.


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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 02:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The band as a whole decided to take time off after the hot space tour, apparantly they all decided that a year off would be good but as it turns out they only took a few months away from each other

I dont think Freddie rejected the rest of the group, he said in an interview that he wanted to make a solo album and thats what he did, it wouldnt be as much of a solo album if it had a Queen like sound and i like the fact that the Mr Bad Guy album sounds so different from the usual Queen sound and he made the album in between the works tours so he was still with the group as such

As for Live Aid, all 4 of them played a big part in what was a very successful 20 mins and from that you could see that they were happy to be with each other

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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 02:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

While all true, you've missed some of the history.  Tensions were very high in the band at the time, and there are plenty of things that wouldn't be mentioned in casual interviews.  Interviews rarely reveal the whole truth.


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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 03:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

plumrach wrote: The band as a whole decided to take time off after the hot space tour, apparantly they all decided that a year off would be good but as it turns out they only took a few months away from each other

I dont think Freddie rejected the rest of the group, he said in an interview that he wanted to make a solo album and thats what he did, it wouldnt be as much of a solo album if it had a Queen like sound and i like the fact that the Mr Bad Guy album sounds so different from the usual Queen sound and he made the album in between the works tours so he was still with the group as such

As for Live Aid, all 4 of them played a big part in what was a very successful 20 mins and from that you could see that they were happy to be with each other

Very True......Freddie didn't reject the rest of the group.......He recorded Mr. Bad Guy during The works tour and in between the works and Magic era.  Why is it that roger could record 3 solo albums and no one say's he rejected Queen?,  lol.   Also,  Freddie asked a guitarist to record his guitar bits like brian on one song, and that song didn't even make it onto the album.   Mr. Bad guy sounds nothing like Queen.  Including the guitar parts.  I guess the closest is Man Made paradise.

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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 03:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

buffypython wrote: TyinPalmSprings wrote: It is disappointing that the time period selected for the movie misses the mark. If you want show the true Freddy, show him after he found his true love (Jim), his struggle with fidelity, coke, his creativity and the health impact on his life, love, and existance with the band. It could also show the fair weather friends and those who betrayed him, used him, and those who stood by him til the end. He had quirks, some lovable, an artists temperment, and the last challenging period of his life, when he reflects, seems to be a much better choice for the film. I have read several books and feel Jim's would make the best basis. May, Deacon and Taylor are great musicians, but this is about Freddie. When he died the band fragmented and never made it back..that says a lot.
"The true Freddie" is Freddie from all time periods. There is no 1 time period where he was more Freddie than another one; you can't help but be yourself. I think Morgan just doesn't want the movie to be the sad, decline of the artist movie of the year; even if the movie spanned Queen's entire career, the trailers for it would just make it out to be a depressing tear-jerker all because of the end. At least, this way, the audience doesn't end up remembering Freddie for his illness & death, but for his music and love.

I disagree......The reason why The Doors was a big success was because they showed the ups and downs of the band, and not ending it after a good comeback album.   That's kind of silly if you ask me.  The Queen story didn't end in 1985, it ended tragically in 1991, and think it would have made a heck of a movie if they covered the whole career,   Even if we're shedding a few tears at the end.  The bonding of the 4 members during the Innuendo sessions was a big part of the bands history, and would gain the band a lot more respect as people and musicians.  Those are the things that make a great movie.    It still could end on a happy note with the tribute Concert and Bo Rhap hitting # 1 again.

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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 04:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

we also know from various interviews from all the members that they did have disagreements about various things but nobody felt it was serious enough to say " im leaving and thats it"

it would be strange it they didnt argue and disagree about things, all 4 of them are/were very different charachters that fitted together well within the band which is what made them so successful

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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 05:51 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"The only worry for me - which is unfortunately unavoidable with films about real people - is that certain fictional dialogue and events will be created by the writer and director to 'sex it up', and the general public will assume that these events and conversations actually took place"

So you've seen Titanic then?


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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 06:08 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

mike hunt wrote:

I disagree......The reason why The Doors was a big success was because they showed the ups and downs of the band, and not ending it after a good comeback album.   That's kind of silly if you ask me.  The Queen story didn't end in 1985, it ended tragically in 1991, and think it would have made a heck of a movie if they covered the whole career,   Even if we're shedding a few tears at the end.  The bonding of the 4 members during the Innuendo sessions was a big part of the bands history, and would gain the band a lot more respect as people and musicians.  Those are the things that make a great movie.    It still could end on a happy note with the tribute Concert and Bo Rhap hitting # 1 again.

You should watch The Damned United to see that you don't need to span someones whole career to tell a good story, I think that ending the film with the tribute concert and bohemian rhapsody at No. 1 would be awful, I mean talk about cliche. If you've ever read any of David Peace's work or seen any of his previous films you'd know that's not his style.


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Posted: 13 Oct 10, 09:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Dr Evil Bri did it again : focusing Fred's biopic on Mr Bad Guy's flop ! Outrageous !

Anyway, I'm not sure Freddie was really trying that hard to go solo at this point ; Mr Bad Guy is really below his standards in terms of both composition and production.  

I suppose a recreation of a Body Language performance during the US Hot Space Tour will make for great cinema, though