Fox has re-hired Dexter “Soap” Fletcher as the new director of the Queen biopic, replacing the fired Bryan Singer, Variety reports. Production will resume next week in London.
Fletcher had left the project already in March 2014 after only three months, citing creative differences.
Still relatively new in the Director’s chair, Fletcher’s credits in the hot seat include Eddie the Eagle (2016) and Wild Bill (2011). However, clearly the reporters at Variety clearly aren’t aware of his very long list of quality acting accolades, which includes Brothers in Arms (2001), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Layer Cake (2004) to name just a few.
The studio made the announcement late Wednesday afternoon, two days after firing Singer under the “pay or play” provision of his contract. Fox did not elaborate on why it had fired Singer, but sources said that it was due to repeated failures to show up on the set.
Filming has been taking place in London with Mr. Robot and The Pacific (2010) star Rami Malek in the lead role as Freddie Mercury. Fox has not altered its plan to release the movie on December 25, 2018 and Variety reports that about two weeks of principal photography remain.
Since it’s conception in 2010, the biopic entitled Bohemian Rhapsody, has been fraught with problems. Originally Sacha Baron Cohen was cast as Freddie Mercury and Frost/Nixon (2008) writer Peter Morgan was brought on to write the script.
Stephen Frears was the top candidate to direct, but in 2013 Cohen quits the film over reported “creative differences” with surviving members of Queen, who have approval over the script and director. The band reportedly wanted to make a “PG movie,” while Cohen was set on “a gritty R-rated tell-all” that focused on Mercury’s decadent lifestyle. It was also reported that Cohen had tried to bring directors like David Fincher and Tom Hooper onboard, but that the band did not approve. It’s generally thought that the movie has died.
A few months later, the BBC reports that it’s still very much alive and Queen drummer Roger Taylor tells Mojo his take on the “creative differences” with Cohen, saying the band dismissed him because they “felt Sacha probably wasn’t right in the end. We didn’t want it to be a joke. We want people to be moved.” Meanwhile, Daniel Radcliffe is rumored to be up for the role Mercury.
In 2013, Ben Whishaw replaces Cohen as Freddie Mercury.
In March of 2016, Cohen finally spoke about why he walked away from the Queen movie in 2013, telling Howard Stern that the creative struggles started early on in the process. “[After] my first meeting, I should never have carried on because a member of the band — I won’t say who — said, ‘This is such a great movie, because such an amazing thing happens in the middle of the movie.’ I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.’” Cohen then explained their full vision for the narrative. “I go, ‘So, wait a minute. What happens in the second half of the movie?’ And he said, ‘Well, we see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’ And I said, ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see the band.”
Cohen confirmed earlier reports that he wanted to drill down into Mercury’s “extreme lifestyle” of “debauchery,” while the band wanted to “protect their legacy.” He also confirmed that he had courted Fincher and Hooper to direct, but that it ultimately did come down to “artistic differences.” He did add that May “is an amazing musician, but he’s not a great movie producer.”
Just one month later, guitarist Brian May responds to Cohen’s Howard Stern interview in a conversation with the Daily Mail, in which he called the actor “an arse,” and said the band’s surviving members “decided he wasn’t right for the role for very good reasons, which will become apparent if you watch what he’s done recently.” (Cohen’s satirical comedy Brüno landed in theatres in 2009, the year before he left the movie.)
Countering Cohen’s claim that the band members wanted to tell a story that glamorized their legacy instead of spotlighting the gritty reality of their story, May said, “Are we the kind of people who ever ducked from the truth? I don’t think so.” He also praised Whishaw, who at the time was still attached to play Mercury, as a “real actor.”
Finally, in November 2016, Rami Malek is cast as Freddie Mercury, and Bryan Singer is brought on to direct. Then we started to see a few pictures form the set and it was clear that Malek had embraced the role.
And the rest is all very recent. Mike Myers has landed a role – so that’s going to be fun to watch and Singer got booted out due to his “unreliability and unprofessionalism”. This reportedly included multiple instances of Singer failing to come to work and even a confrontation between him and Malek about his behavior.
Everyone hopes this is truly an epic movie, it certainly has an epic story to tell.
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