The anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic has now been confirmed by Queen via their online blog Queen Online, but the movie isn’t exactly what fans are expecting. Rather than focusing solely on Freddie’s life, the film will be focusing on the band overall.
Out director Bryan Singer (X-Men) has signed on to direct the project entitled Bohemian Rhapsody: The Film, which will be executive produced by Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May, and star Rami Malek as Mercury.
“Yes folks, it IS finally happening,” the band said. “Award winning director Bryan Singer is the man who will be bringing the Queen and Freddie story alive. Rami has great presence and he’s utterly dedicated to the project. He’s completely living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful.”
It’s a bit unclear whether Freddie’s life as he lived with HIV will have any place in the storyline at all, but we do know the lack of it prompted Sacha Baron Cohen to pull out of the project altogether in the early stages.
It was reported that Cohen didn’t like the tone May and Taylor were taking with the project, as he intended to tell the raw, honest account of Mercury’s life as a queer musician living with HIV. But Queen won over creative control pretty quickly, and according to their site, the film will “recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid”.
May recently spoke to the Sunday Times about his time with Mercury towards the end of his life, which was chronicled in his 3-D photo book Queen in 3-D.
“Of course, we all knew [he had HIV], but we didn’t want to,” May said. “[Mercury] said, ‘You probably gather that I’m dealing with this thing and I don’t want to talk about it and I don’t want our lives to change, but that’s the situation.’ And then he would move on.”
May wrote in the book: “The problem was actually his foot, and tragically there was very little left of it. Once, he showed it to us at dinner. And he said, ‘Oh Brian, I’m sorry I’ve upset you by showing you that.’ And I said, ‘I’m not upset, Freddie, except to realize you have to put up with all this terrible pain…’ He missed [antiretroviral therapy] by just a few months. If it had been a bit later he would still have been with us, I’m sure… You can’t do ‘what if’ can you? You can’t go there because therein lies madness.”
Despite the mainstream media referring to Mercury as gay, it’s likely he was actually bisexual. As The Advocate's editorial director Diane Anderson-Minshall writes:
“Could [Mercury] really have just been bisexual, in a world that flirted with the notion but didn’t — and still doesn’t — understand bisexual identity, especially in men? In a world where any man who has sex with men is automatically considered gay no matter how much he professes a love of women, could Mercury truly have felt torn between these two sides of himself?”