Sacha Baron Cohen's gonna rock you as Freddie Mercury!

Major news coming out of Deadline last night had Sacha Baron Cohen, the unorthodox 38 year old Brit behind eccentrics 'Ali Gi', 'Bruno' and 'Borat', attached to a biopic of the charismatic late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, in a new film produced by Graham King's GK Films and Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions. Genius, yeah? Cohen has the fearlessness of Mercury that is clear from every role in his filmography. He is certainly a showman, a performer and a man of boundless energy. Like Mercury, he lives on the reactions of the general public to heighten his persona and well, he kinda looks like the legendary singer too, especially in his Borat get-up above. Certainly they have a similar figure, and I can't imagine any actor working today who has as much physical resemblance or is better suited for this. At this point it's unknown whether Cohen will go the 'Walk the Line' route of providing vocals as besides his brief turn in Sweeney Todd (where he stole a scene from Johnny Depp, no less) we haven't seen his X-Factor audition yet, if you will. But then, there is no-one that's alive or dead who had the voice range of Mercury. Dramatic wise, his CV is also a little lightweight. Not that I think he can't do this because I firmly believe guys like Cohen are capable of anything - it's just this part will challenge him to go where he has never gone before as an actor. I think he can handle it - if he can convince the general public he was a crazy television presenter from Kazakhstan, then Mercury's a doddle right? We are told surviving Queen members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon will be involved in the production, and have agreed to lend their famous tunes We Will Rock You, Bohemian Raphosdy, You're My Best Friend and We Are The Champions, among others - for the production. Sadly, the movie will cover several years of Mercury's life - including the early formation of Queen, their early trials and tribulations, before culminating in their famous Live Aid performance of 1985 - which sounds to me like a family photo album movie. i.e. just like 99% of the musical biopics we are fed every year.

This is where the project falls down for me, and then I hear Peter Morgan is scripting, so I'm throwing out the red alert. So just like Frost/Nixon, just like The Damned United, just like The Queen, just like The Special Relationship - we will be a fly on the wall to interesting historical events whose dramatic punch is sucked out of the room by a very by-the-book, emotionless writer who doesn't know how to do anything but write caricatures of public figures, and doesn't know how to write material that gets to the real heart and soul of them. He's simply been bailed out by the powerhouses of Michael Sheen, Frank Langella and Helen Mirren in previous films to cover this flaw in his writing. From the sounds of things, Morgan has yet to complete the screenplay with a production start scheduled for next year. No director yet attached. Producer King said;
€œQueen is one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and a music brand all unto itself,€ he said in a statement. €œFreddie Mercury was an awe-inspiring performer, so with Sacha in the starring role coupled with Peter€™s screenplay and the support of Queen, we have the perfect combination to tell the real story behind their success.€
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.