Like our Juanvasquez who wrote HCF’s review of the film, as a Queen fan I thoroughly enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody, even it did alter some chronology and ensure that it followed a very familiar movie biopic pattern. However, we could have had a very different movie. It’s well known that Sacha Baron Cohen was originally going to play Freddie, and that he quit because he wanted to star in a more frank, adult-orientated film than the studio wanted. However, recently Stephen Frears, one of several directors associated with this film before Bryan Singer came on board [and himself had to be partly replaced], talked in more detail to ‘Vulture’ about this earlier incarnation of the project which would have explored Mercury’s sexuality in detail.
“Sacha wanted to make a very outrageous film, which I imagine Freddie Mercury would have approved of. It would have been outrageous in terms of his homosexuality and outrageous in terms of endless naked scenes – and Sacha loved all of that.”
However, this vision was not shared by Freddie’s former bandmates, Brian May and Roger Taylor.
“You could always tell there would be trouble with the rest of the band, because Sacha was so outrageous and they weren’t. They were much more conventional. The band wanted to make more of a PG-rated movie about Queen while Cohen was counting on a gritty R-rated tell-all centred around the gifted gay singer.”
Would this version have been a better movie? It’s hard to say. The film that we have now tiptoed around some things a little too much in the opinion of many, though personally this didn’t hamper my enjoyment, and it sounds like the film that Frears and Sacha wanted to make may very well have had some serious censorship trouble in some places, especially the US. I can understand May and Taylor wanting Bohemian Rhapsody to be a film that far more people would be able to see, and wanting it to be more of a celebration of one of the greatest rock bands that ever existed.