Rami Malek is lighting up the big screen with his portrayal of Queen’s Freddie Mercury, but originally a completely different actor was set to take on the role.
“Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but dropped out of the project in 2013 after disagreements with Queen, who produced the film, over the nature of the story.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Queen drummer Roger Taylor addressed Cohen’s departure from the film.
“There was a lot of talk about Sacha and stuff. It was never really on,” he said. “I don’t think he took it seriously enough — didn’t take Freddie seriously enough. But I think, really, it’s a long road, but we’re at the end of it now.”
Back in 2016, Cohen had a different take on the situation, telling Howard Stern, “There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party.”
The actor explained that the band had omitted those stories from the film. “They wanted to protect their legacy as a band,” he said.
For Taylor, though, Cohen leaving had the silver lining of finding Malek for the iconic part.
“He’s amazing. Thank God we found him,” Taylor gushed. “He’s just an incredible guy — in every way. He’s lovely to be around, he’s dedicated utterly, and he’s incredibly talented. My God! He got Freddie to a tee. I mean, he’s wonderful. We couldn’t have done better.”