It seemed like yet more proof the Freddie Mercury biopic might never get made when Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Talladega Nights) dropped out of the project. Reportedly, he ran into creative differences with the surviving members of Queen, who control all rights to their songs. Namely, it seems Baron Cohen wanted to shoot a full expose on the life of the Queen frontman, who died of complications from AIDS in 1991. Queen, meanwhile, is looking for a more eulogizing, PG approach to the project.
So Baron Cohen exited, and the project went back into a deeper circle of development hell. But there has been good news of late. Peter Morgan, veteran screenwriter whose credits include Rush, Frost/Nixon, The Queen, and The Last King of Scotland, has been brought on to overhaul a script by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele (Ali). The project is backed by Sony Pictures, GK Films, and producer Robert DeNiro to boot, so it’s unlikely to go away altogether.
Then there’s this particular rumor going around, courtesy of the Latino Review, that Dominic Cooper (Captain America, The Devil’s Double) is now the first choice to take over the role. Cooper is being courted, apparently, due to the combination of his looks and vocal ability. Whoever the role does end up going to (Daniel Radcliffe’s name had also been bandied about, a notion the actor quickly squashed), they’ll have their work cut out for them. Mercury was a preeminent vocal talent with a nearly four octave range, something the production will certainly have to contend with given that no actor is likely to match the feat.