It’s been a long and bumpy ride getting a movie of Freddie Mercury’s life to the screen with a roundabout of actors and directors circling the project in its long gestation period. Yet things looked as though they were starting to take shape when actor Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas) was committed to the title role a few months ago with actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher (Sunshine on Leith) set up to direct the Graham King production for Sony to distribute. There was even a start date on the horizon this summer and pre-production underway, but now Deadline reports that Fletcher has dropped out of the project; creative differences with King were cited as the reason. There’s something about putting together biopics of rock legends that seems to really trip Hollywood up– a long gestating biography of Janis Joplin has similarly been bound for years as well.This isn’t the first time talent has dropped out of the project over creative differences. Last summer, Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to play the Queen front man only to drop out after clashing over the tone on the piece with the remaining members of the iconic band. Cohen intentioned to make a gritty, hard R-rated biopic about the glam rocker who passed away from AIDS in 1991 whereas Mercury’s Queen band mates (who have script approval over the project) wanted the film a bit less grim. Cohen’s departure resulted in a recasting session where actors like Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double) were speculated until Whishaw came aboard– he is still committed to play the part at press time.
The currently still untitled film is structured from Mercury’s formation of Queen onward to the band’s famous LiveBand concert in 1985– all set their renowned songbook. Peter Morgan (Oscar nominee for The Queen and Frost/Nixon) wrote the screenplay. Before Fletcher was committed to directing the film, big names as varied as Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) and David Fincher (The Social Network) were thrown out as potential options. Now it’s back a few more steps in this long process, however King is reportedly still hoping to keep this summer’s start date as they look for a new director.