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Queen’s Roger Taylor says Sacha Baron Cohen would have been “utter sh*t” as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

Sacha BC + Freddie M
(Image credit: SBC - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images FM - Rob Verhorst/Redferns )

Queen’s Roger Taylor has offered a scathing assessment of Sacha Baron Cohen’s acting abilities, and suggested that the English film star, best known for his creation and portrayal of the comedy character Borat, would have been “utter shit” in the role of Freddie Mercury in the hugely successful Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody

When the film project was first made public in 2010, it was revealed that Sacha Baron Cohen would be cast in the role of Queen’s flamboyant frontman, but the actor walked away from the production in the summer of 2013. Baron Cohen later claimed that Brian May and Roger Taylor disagreed with his vision of presenting a “warts ‘n’ all’ portrayal of Mercury, and wanted “to protect their legacy as a band”, while Roger Taylor suggested that Baron Cohen “didn’t take Freddie seriously enough.” After numerous script rewrites and cast and director changes, Bohemian Rhapsody finally emerged in 2018 and went on to win four Oscars and break box office records worldwide, earning close to one billion dollars. 

Interviewed in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine (opens in new tab), which goes on sale tomorrow, December 7, Roger Taylor says, “Everything resulting from the film was just so positive. It was fantastic.” But the drummer doesn’t hold back when offering his critique of how the film might have played out with Baron Cohen in the starring role which Rami Malek ultimately carried off to huge acclaim.

“I think he would have been utter shit,” Taylor tells Classic Rock. “Sacha is pushy, if nothing else. He’s also six inches too tall. But I watched his last five films and came to the conclusion he’s not a very good actor… I thought he was an utterly brilliant subversive comedian, that’s what he’s great at. Anyway, I think Rami did a brilliant job in an almost impossible role.”

“We kind of got it right in the end,” Taylor adds, assessing the finished film. “We wanted to take people on a journey, make them feel up and then down, then joyous at the end.”

For much, much more from Roger Taylor, pick up the new issue of Classic Rock magazine (opens in new tab), which goes on-sale tomorrow, December 7.

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.