We recently reported that it’s been 20 years since we lost Freddie Mercury, lead singer extraordinaire of Queen. With Mercury’s death, the world lost a singular talent that can never be replaced, and his passing left a big void in the rock world.
There have been reports for some time now that Mercury’s life will get the big screen treatment, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing him, and Graham King (The Departed, Hugo) producing.
On a recent press jaunt for Hugo, King said, “He led such a big life and there’s just so much to tell. Then you’ve got all this fantastic music. You’ve got to fit that in. It’s not any easy one to put together, but I’m pretty confident we’ll be shooting that next year.”
Often rock biopics get announced, but they rarely make the screen. There’ve been plans to do a Jimi Hendrix movie forever, Motley Crue had The Dirt set up at Paramount but it never got off the ground, there’s also been talk of Johnny Depp one day playing Ozzy Osbourne, but none of these projects ever got made.
The life of Freddie won’t be an easy undertaking, even with an actor as talented as Cohen taking on the role. It would be very easy for a role like this to slip into caricature or one dimensional cliché in the wrong hands, a trap too many rock films have fallen into. This is why Cohen playing the role is a step in the right direction. He can handle the dramatic demands of the part, as well as capture Mercury’s whimsy, campiness, and sense of humor.
The rock movie has also been a dead genre for a long time. At the beginning of the ’90’s and the new millennium, The Doors and Almost Famous tried to bring it back to no avail.
Even The Runaways, which I liked very much, was derided for being the same story we’ve heard forever about the rise and fall of a band, but it was how Floria Sigismondi told the story that really made it come to life for me, and it’s the closest film I’ve seen since Spinal Tap that really captured what being in a band is like.
Again, Cohen’s a step in the right direction, but this film is also going to depend heavily on a good script, and the right director. With The Runaways, video director typical choice, but like David Fincher, proved she has more depth than the usual music clip helmer.
To whoever will helm this movie: if you think this is going to be a VH1 movie of the week walk in the park, think again. Freddie deserves a hell of a lot better than that.