To get things straight, we’re not talking about HRH‘s partiality for a certain British actor she would like to see take on the lead role in the long time coming biopic about singer Freddie Mercury. We are of course referring to the band itself or, more specifically, drummer Roger Taylor, who divulged in the potential casting of Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas, Skyfall) during an appearance on BBC One’s One Show to promote his latest solo album Fun On Earth. Taylor first teased his hopes by confessing the band’s hopes “for a guy with B.W. initials,” and as soon as a cast member shouted out Whishaw’s name Taylor came back with a “Well, we hope so” response.
The opinion of the members of Queen have always played a substantial role in the film’s production with the band having the final decision in terms of the script, director and main cast to guarantee the project’s ‘official biopic’ label. Taylor and guitarist Brian May have been the main two overseeing the project since news of the biopic surfaced back in 2006. It would be fair to say that they have both been more than hard to impress, particularly in terms of casting calls. Johnny Depp was the first name rumoured for the lead role but then no news arose until four years later when Sacha Baron Cohen was tapped for the role but he exited the project last summer over creative differences. The reason behind the falling out is reported to have been the result of Queen members inclination towards a PG affair whereas Cohen was after a grittier take on the life and times of the late singer.
If an interview May conducted with Classic Rock magazine is anything to go by, it would appear that the real reason for Cohen’s departure was that the band thought his fame would detract from the film:
“We thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie. You have to really suspend that disbelief — the man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn’t feel that could really happen with Sacha.”
Whilst the band may be in Whishaw’s corner there is still no news as to who will direct the film. Quite aptly, Stephen Frears (The Queen) was first considered for the project before the director Tom Hooper, who cut his teeth directing Byker Grove and went on to direct the recent movie adaptation of Les Miserables, was reportedly offered the gig.
There’s certainly a lot of buzz around the film and we’ll update you as soon as any concrete developments are announced.