Sacha Baron Cohen has inked a deal to play Freddie Mercury in an upcoming film about the rock band Queen. While currently untitled, the biopic is said to cover the band's early years leading up to their famous appearance at Live Aid in 1985.
Queen guitarist Brian May confirmed the casting choice, saying:
"We have Sacha Baron Cohen, which will probably be a shock to a lot of people, but he's been talking with us for a long time."
I don't find it shocking at all, actually. For one thing, Cohen looks a hell of a lot like Mercury, and he seems more than capable of handling Mercury's over-the-top performance style. While Cohen's probably best known for his comic personas like Ali G, Borat, and Bruno, he's shown a remarkable ability to completely transform himself into whatever character he's playing. My guess is that tackling a dramatic role as a flamboyant rock singer will be well within his skill set.
No one can touch Freddie Mercury's vocals, so I'd think they wouldn't even try. Cohen reportedly showed off his own singing chops in Sweeney Todd, though, so perhaps we'll get to hear him taking on some of Queen's best known tunes. All the well-loved chart toppers are sure to be included, because surviving Queen members (Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon) have officially licensed songs and music publishing rights for the film.
With all the formulaic crap being spewed out of Hollywood these days, it's always nice to see a unique combination of casting and screenplay. The movie doesn't start shooting until next year, but I'll definitely be looking forward to seeing it when it's finally released.
What do you think about Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie Mercury? Do you think he can pull it off?
Image via Keith Allison