Sacha Baron Cohen was set to play Freddie Mercury in an early version of the biopic, and wanted it to be “outrageous”. (Jeff Kravitz/Getty)
Sacha Baron Cohen’s original version of Bohemian Rhapsody would have been “very outrageous” with “endless naked scenes”, his former collaborator has revealed.
A biopic of the Queen frontman was first announced in 2010, with the Borat star originally attached to play the lead role before dropping out over creative differences.
The early version of the film would have been titled Freddie Mercury and directed by Stephen Frears, who told Vulture: “Sacha wanted to make a very outrageous film, which I would imagine Freddie Mercury would have approved of.
“Outrageous in terms of his homosexuality and outrageous in terms of endless naked scenes. Sacha loved all of that.”
Bohemian Rhapsody has recently hit headlines again after Korean broadcaster SBS decided to blur its gay kisses out for being “too risque”.
The broadcaster defended the decision, saying it was because the film was shown at 8.40pm and aimed to draw in family viewers. They added that the kiss scenes were “very long” and that they would also have censored heterosexual kiss scenes.
Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly “didn’t take Freddie seriously enough”.
Sacha Baron Cohen was set to play Freddie Mercury when the film was announced in 2010, but pulled out of the project in 2013.
Regardless, Cohen has had a number of award-winning projects since then, including the sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm released in 2020.
Queen drummer Roger Taylor told the Associated Press: “There was a lot of talk about Sacha and stuff. It was never really on. I don’t think he took it seriously enough – didn’t take Freddie seriously enough.”
He added that Rami Malek, who ended up in the lead role, was “incredibly talented” and “got Freddie to a tee”.
Rami Malek won an Oscar for Best Actor alongside numerous other accolades for his portrayal of the late singer.
The version that made it to screens was hugely successful, receiving four Academy Awards, two BAFTAs, two Golden Globes and a SAG award.
However the film came under fire because the director, Bryan Singer, was fired. by 20th Century Fox three weeks before filming ended because of multiple allegations of sexual assault. His name was left out at the awards ceremonies and GLAAD withdrew the film’s nomination for Outstanding Film.
One actor told The Atlantic: “After the Harvey Weinstein news came out, everyone thought Bryan Singer would be next.”