News > Sacha Baron Cohen is perfect to play Freddie Mercury but we can't mess up his legacy, says Brian May

Added on 27-Apr-2011

QUEEN guitarist Brian May says Sacha Baron Cohen is the best choice to play the band's legendary singer, Freddie Mercury.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Record, Brian reveals that Ali G star Sacha has been telling the band for years he was born to play Freddie in the biopic due to begin filming this year.

Brian says the rest of Queen have been reluctant to agree to the film, which will have a screenplay by Oscar-winning writer Peter Morgan. He still has mixed feelings.

The 63-year-old, who has been voted the seventh-best guitarist of all time, said: "It is a project which is taking up a lot of time even though it is in the preparatory stages. It is a bit early to say how we will feel about it.

"Obviously, we go into it with a great amount of enthusiasm but also a certain amount of caution because Freddie's legacy is very precious and we have a great responsibility not to mess it up. It is more about Freddie than it is about us and that is deliberately so.

"We have resisted making this film for a long time and it is only now we feel we have the right people that we have given it the OK.

"Sacha does seem perfect. If it hadn't beenfor Sacha pushing and pushing, we wouldn't be at this point. We didn't choose him. He chose us.

"He is passionate about playing Freddie. For years, he's been saying he is going to do it."

Freddie died of Aids-related pneumonia in 1991 aged 45.

Queen, who sold more than 300million albums worldwide, 18 of which have been No1s, and have played to millions of people around the globe, are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. They are the band who stole the show at Live Aid and have the best selling Greatest Hits album ever. Despite having been playing since 1971, the band are in demand more than ever.

With former Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers on lead vocals, Queen have continued to sell out concerts around the world and their Olivier award-winning musical, We Will Rock You, has been seen by millions across the globe since it first hit London's West End in 2001.

A bbc documentary featuring interviews with Brian and drummer Roger Taylor will be shown in June to mark the 40th anniversary.

Brian, who is married to former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson, said: "It is a sobering thought.

"I still feel like that young guy who stepped out on stage for the first time. A huge amount has happened though, more than anyone could have dreamed of.

"I saw the rough cut of the documentary. It sums up the middle years of Queen and I got a huge emotional jolt from it. "I kept thinking, 'My God, is that me?' Sometimes it seems like a different life. I sometimes feel it is all happening in my head."

Brian continued: "Our manager says he is busier now than he has ever been. "He asked me the other day if I realised we had been going for 40 years and 20 of those years had been without Freddie.

"That's very, very strange for me to think about, especially as Queen are more current to more people than they have ever been.

"A lot of people thought there was no future without Freddie. I certainly did. But, in a sense, Freddie is still with us. I deal with part of him every day of my life. "That is actually a strangely joyous experience these days."

In the last 20 years, Brian has also developed his reputation as the musician who everybody wants to work with.

He has released two successful solo albums, played the national a nthem on top of Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, worked with younger pop stars such as Five and made frequent appearances on stage at We Will Rock You performances. There are even rumours of a collaboration with Lady Gaga on her next album, Born This Way. After all, Gaga has often said Freddie Mercury is her inspiration.

Brian has even set up the Save Me charity devoted to the protection of the UK's wildlife.

And now he is about to start touring again. This time it's with Kerry Ellis on the back of her hugely successful 2010 album, Anthems, produced by Brian.

The pair have had a close working relationship since Brian spotted her appearing as Martine McCutcheon's understudy in My Fair Lady and asked her to audition for the lead female role in the original cast of We Will Rock You.

Brian said: "Kerry is a wonderful interpreter of material and we do have a great working relationship. "We have both been incredibly busy over the last 10 years and managed to snatch moments to keep experimenting.

"You have to keep trying things and be prepared to fail to find the things which magically light up.

"We found a lot of those in the end and I am really proud of the album."

Incredibly, the guitarist, who once played in front of 325,000 people at Queen's Rio concert in 1985, still gets nervous when he is about to go on stage.

Brian, who has a PhD in astrophysics, said: "I still get an enormous buzz when I pick up the guitar. I am still a kid in that way.

"I just love the noise it makes and for me it is a voice.

"I still have the guitar which I made when I was a boy.

"Going out on stage is such a heightened experience and in a way you are conscious of everything around you.

"Some things float to the top, though, and sometimes it is a great feeling and you have an amazing rapport with the audience.

"But other times it is, 'I wonder if I locked both doors at home'.

"The nerves never go away as anything can happen. It is live and dangerous and that's part of the attraction to the audience."

Brian, whose mum came from Perthshire, loves coming to Scotland whenever he can.

He said: "It does remind me of my mum and I still have family there, which is nice.

"Plus Scottish audiences are always so receptive it makes it incredibly enjoyable to play there."? Anthems: The Tour is at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre on May 11 and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on May 12. For tickets, go to

Submitted by: mickyparise

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