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UPDATED: Sacha Baron Cohen NOT Rejoining Freddie Mercury Biopic

Freddie Mercury Sacha Baron Cohen
Hulton Archive / Stefania D’Alessandro, Getty Images

It turns out that Borat will not being playing Freddie Mercury after all.

It was reported yesterday that Sacha Baron Cohen was re-cast as the star of the film about the life of the late Queen frontman, but guitarist Brian May says that announcement was merely an off-handed joke.

According to May, Queen manager Jim Beach, “in response to inquiries about the progress on the Freddie feature film at an awards ceremony, declared that Sacha Baron Cohen had been re-engaged to write, produce, and direct the film, as well as starring in all four major roles! I’m afraid some folks might have taken it seriously!”

(Whoops!)

Cohen left the project in 2013 after clashing with the producers, which include the surviving members of the band, over the direction of the film. It was reported at the time that Cohen was “more interested in an R-rated graphic film that delved into Mercury’s homosexuality” while the producers were looking to create a sanitized version. Drummer Roger Taylor said that Cohen would have turned it into “a joke,” while guitarist Brian May said that Cohen’s star power would have been difficult to overcome. “You have to really suspend that disbelief,” he said. “The man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie.”

Several months after Cohen’s departure in July 2013, Ben Whishaw was recruited to play Mercury, with Dexter Fletcher getting the nod as director. However, Fletcher walked away in March 2014, citing the traditional “creative differences.” There had been little movement on the film since.

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