Depp tipped for Freddie Mercury film role

He is a keen guitar player whose admiration for the Rolling Stones stretched to modelling his character, the pirate Jack Sparrow, on the mannerisms of Keith Richards.

Now the Pirates of the Caribbean star, Johnny Depp, is being lined up to play a rock star for real in a biopic of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.

Robert de Niro's company, Tribeca Productions, is said to be behind the project, which Brian May, the Queen guitarist, confirmed was in development. "Discussions are at an early stage," he said on his website.

May described Depp as "fantastic". "He would be a worthy counterpart for Freddie on screen. I don't think I can say any more right now," he added.

De Niro has known Brian May and Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor, since they met at the Venice Film Festival in 1996 and ploughed his own money into their hit stage musical, We Will Rock You. The musical was originally going to be about the band but the surviving members decided that would be too embarrassing for all involved.

"It would be too painful, too close, and a bit grand. It would be for somebody else to do, you can't supervise your own history," May said at the time.

Instead, Ben Elton, the comedy writer and novelist, devised a story that incorporated the band's back catalogue of songs. When the show opened in London in 2002 after six years in development, De Niro attended the first night. "It's an adventure. I've been involved in this for a long time. It went through a lot of stages and finally got to this stage - it's going to be terrific," he said.

The £7.5m production, which is still running, is set in a future where musical instruments have been banned but a group of rebels go in search of mythical electric guitars.

But the proposed biopic would tell the life story of Mercury, who was born in Zanzibar in 1946 and died from complications of Aids in 1991, the day after confirming he had the disease.

His real name was Farrokh Bulsara but he adopted the name he was best known by at school in India, where he grew up. His family settled in England when he was in his teens. He performed with several bands before co-founding Queen in 1971.

They signed to EMI a year later. His distinctive voice, which ranged across four octaves, was a key factor in their success on songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody. It lasted nearly six minutes and stayed at number one in the UK charts for nine weeks.

It has since been voted Britain's best single of all time by music fans in a Guinness Book of British Hit Singles poll, defeating John Lennon's Imagine and Hey Jude by the Beatles.

Although Mercury had a close friend, Mary Austin, with whom he lived for several years and who inherited his estate, he was fairly open about his homosexuality. He lived with Jim Hutton for the last six years of his life.

Reformed character vs flamboyant showman

* JOHNNY DEPP Born: 9 June 1963 in Kentucky.

Significant other: Vanessa Paradis, the French actress and singer, with whom he has two children.

Reputation: Once accused of selling drugs at his club, The Viper Room, where River Phoenix overdosed and died, he is a reformed family man.

Did you know? He has twice recorded with the band Oasis, including playing lead slide guitar on the track "Fade In-Out" from the album, Be Here Now.

* FREDDIE MERCURY Born: 5 September 1946 in Zanzibar. Died 24 November 1991 in London.

Significant other: Jim Hutton, a hotel barber.

Reputation: A flamboyant showman who had numerous affairs.

Did you know? He was of Indian descent but kept this from most of his fans and rarely mentioned his heritage in interviews. Some friends suggested it was because he feared a racist backlash.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there