Bryan Singer has still received a directing credit on the upcoming Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” despite being replaced by Dexter Fletcher, it’s been reported.
Singer was allegedly fired in December after going AWOL following a Thanksgiving break. However, producer Graham King has now told Empire that the director had “some personal issues going on.”
King explained, “Bryan Singer is the credited director of the film. Basically, Bryan had some personal issues going on. He wanted to hiatus the movie to deal with them, and the movie had to get finished.
“That was what it came down to… It wasn’t about reinventing the wheel. We needed someone who would have some creative freedom, but work inside a box.”
King added in the interview that Fletcher had shot footage for around 16 days.
King’s chat comes after the film’s studio, 20th Century Fox, confirmed Singer’s firing in a terse statement: “Bryan Singer is no longer the director of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”
Singer’s sacking came on the heels of an announcement from the studio that production was halted “due to the unexpected unavailability of Bryan Singer,” with a statement declaring that the director’s unavailability was due to “a personal health matter concerning Bryan and his family.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, however, the firing of Singer (known for directing several “X-Men” movies) “reflected a growing clash between Singer and actor Rami Malek,” who’s playing Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic.
The source of that “clash,” reported THR, stemmed from Singer reportedly going AWOL from the set on several occasions, which necessitated cinematographer Thomas Newton Sigel stepping in to direct on the days that Singer was a no-show.
Singer’s continual absence from the set led Malek to complain to the studio about the director’s “unreliability and unprofessionalism,” while a source told THR at the time that co-star Tom Hollander (who plays Queen manager Jim Beach) was becoming so frustrated with Singer’s behaviour that he quit (he was later persuaded to return).
“The growing tension led to a confrontation between Singer and Malek, which, while it did not become physical between the two did involve Singer throwing an object,” reported THR, adding that the two later “settled their differences.”
Singer had reportedly been warned prior to production by top studio execs that “they wouldn’t tolerate any unprofessional behaviour on his part,” with a rep from the Directors Guild of America brought to the film’s London set in order to “monitor the situation.”
When Singer didn’t show up on the set after the Thanksgiving break, added THR, the studio saw this as “the final straw” and made the decision to terminate him under his “pay-or-play” contract.
Following Fox’s announcement, Singer issued a statement of his own, denying reports of friction with Malek while stating he needed “to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents.”
“With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control,” Singer said in his statement.
“Rumours that my unexpected departure from the film was sparked by a dispute I had with Rami Malek are not true. While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving,” he continued. “I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honour the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 6, the studio announced that Fletcher would step in to direct the remainder of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Fletcher — whose acting credits include “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” — made his directorial debut with 2011’s “Wild Bill”, and most recently helmed “Eddie the Eagle”, the biopic about British ski-jumping curiosity Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards.