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Stephen Frears To Direct Sacha Baron Cohen in Freddie Mercury Biopic?

Cohen's celebratory biopic of the charismatic late Queen frontman to feature the rock band's most famous tunes.

With "The Dictator" now completed and opening in theaters on May 16th, star Sacha Baron Cohen is ready to move on to his next big project and attention seems to be turning to the much-talked about biopic of charismatic late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Variety reports that veteran Brit helmer Stephen Frears has emerged as the early favourite to direct the currently untitled, celebratory film that is setup at producer Graham King's GK Films. The trade's sources say that although several other filmmakers are in contention, Fears is the front-runner for the gig and it looks like the man who delivered us "The Queen" is moving to Queen! A fine choice indeed, not least because he is an accomplished filmmaker but also let's not forget he gave us one of cinema's biggest ever love letters to music from the p.o.v of those who consume it with 2001's "High Fidelity". The Freddie Mercury movie was first announced back in September 2010 as a starring vehicle for the 40-year-old "Borat" star. We were told then that the movie would 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. Peter Morgan, Oscar nominated for his "Frost/Nixon" historic drama, wrote the latest draft of the screenplay though the team of Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, who wrote biopics of other larger than life figures with Oliver Stone's "Nixon" (yes him again) and "Ali" are also credited. 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 - the first time they have ever allowed out their music rights for this to happen for movies about themselves. There's no mention yet as to whether Cohen will actually sing in the movie but we imagine given his fearless acting nature and his prior vocal experience in "Sweeney Todd" and the forthcoming "Les Miserables", that it's a safe bet that he will. I said of Cohen's attachment over 18 months ago;
"He 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."
The film won't focus on events post-1985 in much depth, if at all, and specifically we are told that Mercury's death from AIDS complications in 1991 won't factor. There's no specifics on when this one might film but it could happen this summer. Frears' last movie "Lay The Favourite" was acquired at Sundance and is currently working on the legal HBO drama "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight". He has movies he is attached to but nothing with firm commitments that means he couldn't make this movie this year.
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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.