Queen guitarist Brian May revealed Sunday night to crestfallen film fans that Sacha Baron Cohen would not be playing frontman Freddie Mercury in a biopic after all, despite earlier reports that he had returned to the project. Multiple media outlets, including Music Times, were thrown for a loop when the band's manager, Jim Beach, reportedly reported the news. The longtime band member clarified that Beach's quote at the Artist & Management Awards in London was that Cohen would play "all four major roles," obviously a bit of jest that the original reporting outlet either failed to understand or ignored.
"You have probably followed the saga of the famous Queen-Freddie Mercury biopic which has been developing in Hollywood for the last seven years," he said, according to apparently mistaken reports. "An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie—and he has also agreed to star."
Cohen had been tapped to star during earlier discussions on the project, a biopic that is more than ten years in the making. He had long projected his own vision for the film—an R-rated concept that doesn't shy away from the grittier aspects of both Mercury's life and the rock star lifestyle—since he joined the cast during 2007. However the band itself wanted a more family-friendly image and Cohen eventually stepped away during 2013. May reported at the time that the band was more concerned with Cohen's big name distracting from the story of Mercury.
"In the end, we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting," he said during 2013. "What led us to that conclusion was the last three movies that he's made—The Dictator, Les Miserables and Hugo."
Tom Hooper and a number of directors have come and gone as well. Unfortunately, in light of recent announcements, Queen fans will need to continue their wait for the film version.