Sacha Baron Cohen reveals why he quit Queen biopic

Sacha Baron Cohen reveals he clashed with Queen band members over how Freddie Mercury's debauchery should be portrayed on screen.

Sacha Baron Cohen quit a planned biopic about Queen star Freddie Mercury over artistic differences.

In a radio interview with The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday (09Mar16), Sacha told the host that he dropped out of the long-planned biopic over disagreements with Queen over how the film should portray the more salacious aspects of the late singer's life.

The 44-year-old said he wanted to tell the iconic singer's full story - parties, drugs, sex and all.

"There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury," he said. "The guy was wild. I mean he was living an extreme lifestyle. There are stories of… little people with plates with cocaine on their heads walking around a party."

Sacha, who is in the US to promote his new movie Grimsby, added that he understood why the surviving members of Queen wanted a more cautious version of the film portraying the band's legacy. But the actor also admitted he predicted right from his first meeting with the band that creative differences would arise.

"A member of the band, I won't say who, he said, 'This is such a great movie because it's got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle of the movie,'" Sacha recalled. "I go, 'What happens in the middle of the movie?' He goes, 'Freddie dies.' "

While the Borat actor initially assumed the film would have a non-linear structure, like Pulp Fiction, he later realised they wanted the second half to focus on how Queen continued after the Bohemian Rhapsody singer's death in 1991.

Despite that meeting, Sacha continued to work on the movie for several years. He even brought in various big-name filmmakers including screenwriter The Queen screenwriter Peter Morgan and directors David Fincher and Tom Hooper - but the band weren't happy with the choices.

"At the end of the day it really was an artistic difference," Sacha said, adding, “Brian May is an amazing musician, but he’s not a great movie producer."

Sacha was first linked to the biopic and dropped out in 2013. That year, Queen guitarist Brian spoke about the split, saying that the band "felt that (Cohen's) presence in the movie would be very distracting".

The biopic has since failed to launch again, but as of last November (15), writer Anthony McCarten was tapped to write a new script. Skyfall actor Ben Whishaw is rumoured to be the frontrunner to portray Freddie.

The surviving members of Queen have yet to comment on Sacha's claims.

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