In some of the best movie news I've heard recently, Sacha Baron Cohen is signed on to play Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic! He is replacing previous frontrunner Johnny Depp, possibly because studio executives realized they had been considering Johnny Depp to play Freddie Mercury.
In some of the worst movie news I've heard recently, rumors that Sacha Baron Cohen is signed on to play Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic are absolutely untrue. The actor's publicist has come out and said that the reports are "pure hokum."
Who says "hokum" anymore? Anyway, the conclusion I've come to is that internet entertainment news is a cruel temptress, trying always to get my hopes up about something before dashing them away again. I had been very upset to hear about Depp's possible casting as legendary Queen singer Mercury (the dear Farrokh Bulsara, fyi), and am at least hoping that the confusion regarding the actor in the role means that Depp is out. I grant that he is a talented actor, and he used to be hot back when he was on 21 Jump Street, but I do not think people would be able to take him seriously in the role.
I understand this statement is confusing in light of my support for the casting of Cohen as Mercury, but I think that SBC has proven himself capable of committing to so many different types of roles - so far as to sacrifice himself to the character he is playing - more convincingly even than Depp. I think when the average person watches Ali G, they are entirely focused on and drawn into the noted Staines-ian, and don't think about Borat or Bruno until after they have absorbed who Ali G is. With Depp, however, it has become difficult for audiences to suspend their caricature of Depp caricaturing Keith Richards as Captain Jack Sparrow. The character and the man are almost inseparable, even for long-time fans.
Certainly, Cohen looks a hell of a lot more like Freddie Mercury than Depp does, but more importantly, I think he is woefully underappreciated in Hollywood. Though I did not see all of the contenders for the most recent Academy Awards, I maintain that Cohen should have at the very least been nominated. I don't think any other actor in Hollywood, Daniel Day Lewis be damned, could have commited to the role of Borat with such devotion, and pulled it off. I didn't like the movie or the character as much as I like some of Cohen's other work, but the fact is that he takes himself just seriously enough for everyone else to buy into his shtick.
So here's my vote for Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury. May the best man win, and go on to lipsynch to classic sports anthems forever...
P.S. I should point out that I am quite devoted to Queen, and it is very important to me that the makers of a Freddie Mercury biopic give the man and the band the credit they deserve. I have seen the London stage musical "We Will Rock You" three times, and highly recommend it to anyone lucky enough to get a chance to watch it. I have so so so many memories of listening to Queen on my headphones and really absorbing the magic of the vocals, the instrumentals, the lyrics. Beautiful music deserves to be held on a pedestal, and I hope that the biopic, especially when dealing with a subject such as a famous death to AIDS in 1993, will be dignified. To me, even spandex suits and cocaine don't diminish the aplomb of this band...