Comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen is reported to have quit playing the lead in an impending Freddie Mercury biopic due to a disagreement with the remaining members of Queen.
Cohen left the production over "creative differences" with the band, who reportedly wanted to make a family-friendly film about Queen, while the comedian wanted it to be "a gritty R-rated tell-all centred around the gifted gay singer”, according to US site Deadline.
Cohen, who closely resembles the late Queen frontman, first expressed interest in the part in 2011. It would have marked a departure for the actor, whose career has been built on playing outrageous, non-politically correct characters of his own creation in spoof documentaries.
He first found international fame with his 2002 film Ali G Indahouse, in which he played the urban youth Ali G from his Channel 4 series Da Ali G Show.
His subsequent films Borat (2006), about a Kazakhstani visiting the US, and Brüno (2009), in which he pretended to be a gay Austrian fashion presenter, were huge successes at the international box office.
Cohen had brought in screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) as well as various directors including David Fincher (Fight Club) and Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) to work on the Mercury biopic, according to Deadline.
However, none have been approved to work on the biopic by band members Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor, who have script and director approval over the film.