Added on 21-Sep-2010
Peter Morgan talks about Freddie Mercury film
The hot-shot screenwriter talks about working with surviving Queen members and Sacha Baron Cohen playing Mercury
The screenwriter Peter Morgan gave more details last night about his work on an upcoming film about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury – including how he's having to tread carefully with the band's three surviving members.
‘That's where my head is now,’ Morgan told an audience at Bafta during a talk as part of the Bafta and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series. ‘I’m meeting rock Gods, and I love it.’
Morgan says that it’s been tricky dealing with Queen’s surviving members, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. ‘Queen are sensitive because it will show rancour and disagreements in the collaborative process. In a way, the film, for me, reflects my own experience of filmmaking as a collaborative process. Just as a film is never the result of one person, so the band doesn’t like the idea of Queen being “A Band by Freddie Mercury” – and they’re right. It won't just be about Freddie Mercury.’
Morgan also stressed that although Baron Cohen is played the lead, no one should expect an out-and-out comedy. ‘They’ve hired me, so they’re not expecting gags. This is a drama.’
Asked whether he had read Tony Blair’s autobiography to compare notes with his scripts for ‘The Queen’ and ‘The Deal’, the 47-year-old writer said he was too busy reading and thinking about Mercury.
‘I will read it at some point – but at the moment my head’s full of books about Farrokh Bulsara’ – Mercury’s real name.
Morgan said that at first he didn’t think the film was a good idea when it was suggested to him. Baron Cohen is 38, so he didn’t feel he could write about Mercury’s younger years, and Mercury died in 1991 at 45, which didn’t leave him many years to investigate.
‘I didn’t want to write about a man dying from Aids. Luckily, when I looked into Mercury’s life, I found a good story in that window.’ Morgan didn’t specify, but other reports have suggested that the film will focus on the run-up to Queen’s performance at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985.
Author: Dave Calhoun