Three years after Sacha Baron Cohen was cast as Freddie Mercury in a film about the late Queen lead singer's life, Cohen has dropped the project. According to Deadline.com's Nikki Finke, the issue was a creative one, as Cohen wanted the film to be an R-rated look at Mercury's life and death, while the band -- which has "script and director approval," per Finke -- had hoped for PG feature.
The news is surprising, not just because Cohen has long wanted to play Mercury; in October of last year, Queen guitarist Brian May posted an update about the film on his website and sounded excited about its progress.
Ah … I promised news of yesterday's Queen band meeting. Well, it was just Roger and Jim Beach and myself … we are a small cottage industry !! Our main agenda was the Freddie film … which, I'm happy to tell you, is on course. Much of our discussion was about contractual things … it's pretty complex …. and determining who is responsible for what. The pieces are all falling into place, though we are now on a slightly later schedule - filming is now scheduled to start in the Spring, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie. The film should be ready for release early in 2014.
In keeping with that timeline, Deadline.com reported in March that Tom Hooper was considering the Mercury biography as his next project, following "Les Miserables." Hooper worked with Cohen on that Oscar-nominated film.
"Sacha, you know, he's got to be one of the best comedians on the planet," Hooper told HuffPost Entertainment about Cohen, who played Thénardier in "Les Mis." "He's also proven that he's got tremendous acting ability. There are moments in 'Bruno' that have incredible humanity. He was my first choice."
For more on Cohen's departure, head to Deadline.com.