Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic about the late Queen singer, according to sources.
Producer Graham King – whose credits include Gangs of New York and The Departed – said nothing was official, but that Cohen has agreed in principle to play the part.
“Who better to play Freddie Mercury than Sacha Baron Cohen? You never know (if a film will actually come together) until it’s done, but I’m hoping (he plays the part),” King said.
The producer said the Mercury film is an idea that he has tossed around for years. After working with director Martin Scorcese on a number of films, most recently the 3D picture Hugo, which also featured Cohen, King thinks the time is right for the biopic.
King was impressed with Cohen’s serious side in Hugo.
“He’s so talented, and you see a side to him in Hugo that no one had ever seen before. Very emotional, and very heartfelt,” King said.
Cohen is best known for his roles as Ali G, Borat and Bruno – ridiculous characters in which Cohen entrenches himself before making fools out of unsuspecting people. Ali G (an idiot), Borat (a Kazakhstani reporter) and Bruno (an extremely flamboyant homosexual) have all been used to dupe guests from Gore Vidal and Pat Buchanan to laypeople, church officials and country folk.
The ability to delve so deep into a character should help Cohen in the role of emulating a music hero.
Mercury died of complications brought on by AIDS in 1991, one day after he publicly acknowledged having the disease. He was the lead singer of Queen, a band that produced dozens of hits in the 70s and 80s, before becoming a solo artist later in his career.
Cohen bears a striking resemblance to Mercury – a detail King surely noticed when tossing around casting ideas.