Freddie Mercury biopic moves forward; Sacha Baron Cohen to star

Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

Queen guitarist Brian May has reignited talk of a long-gestating Freddie Mercury biopic when he confirmed a shooting schedule and Sacha Baron Cohen’s participation as Mercury. While that information sinks in, think of Cohen, best known for his star-turns as bumbling Kazakh journalist Borat or flamboyant gossip reporter Bruno, strutting onstage in a bright green leotard singing “Fat Bottom Girls,” or reenacting key lyrical moments from “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The update was announced on May’s website last week, where he wrote of a meeting among fellow Queen members. “Our main agenda was the Freddie film … which, I’m happy to tell you, is on course,” he wrote, adding that the meeting mostly involved contractual concerns. “The pieces are all falling into place, though we are now on a slightly later schedule -- filming is now scheduled to start in the Spring, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie. The film should be ready for release early in 2014.”

Cohen has been mentioned in association with the biopic for two years, and in the spring, Stephen Frears’ name was floated as a possible director. And though Frears’ participation hasn’t been confirmed, his direction of the adaptation Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” would make him a favorite among music geeks.


Patti Smith: In the Oct. 15 Calendar section, a review of a Patti Smith concert at the Wiltern identified the guitarist in her band as Jackson Smith. The guitarist was Jack Petruzzelli. —

Since his death in 1991, Mercury’s legend has grown as the songs he and his band created draw new generations of fans. Much of that legacy is due to Mercury’s charisma and willingness to let his rock ‘n’ roll freak flag fly. Whether roaming the stage shirtless wearing only skimpy tennis shorts or dressed as royalty, Mercury was a one-of-a-kind. Songs such as “We Are the Champions” and “Another One Bites the Dust” are standards, but even such lesser-known tracks as “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Dragon Attack” pack a punch.

We’ll keep you posted on progress. In the meantime, here’s this, from Queen’s performance at the National Bowl in Buckinghamshire, England.


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