Sacha Baron Cohen: Why I left Freddie Mercury role

Sacha Baron Cohen says he exited a planned Freddie Mercury role because members of Queen wanted the film to focus on the band’s legacy following the singer’s death.

The comedian was announced as the star of the biopic in 2010 – but he left the project in 2013 amid reports of artistic differences with an unnamed member of the band.

Cohen tells Howard Stern: “There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. He was living a extreme lifestyle. There are stories of little people with plates with cocaine on their heads walking around parties.

“A member of the band – I won’t say who – said, ‘You know, this is such a great movie because it’s got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle.’

“And I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘You know, Freddie dies.’

“I say, ‘What happens in the second half of the movie?’ He says, ‘We see how the band carries on from strength-to-strength.’”

But Cohen adds: “I understand. They want to protect their legacy as a band and they wanted it to be about Queen. But after the first meeting I shouldn’t have carried on.”

Guitarist Brian May paid tribute to his late bandmate after Queen won the Living Legends prize at last year’s Classic Rock Awards.

They’re set to play a string of European shows in spring, including a headline appearance at the Isle Of Wight Festival.

Queen tour dates 2016

May 27: Cologne Rheinenergiestadion
Jun 05: Tallinn Tallinn Lauluvaljak
Jun 9-12: Isle Of Wight Festival, UK
Jun 15: Brussells Palais 12, Belgium
Jun 17: Hinwil Rock The Ring, Switzerland
Jun 21: Bucharest Constitutei, Romania
Jun 23: Sofia Stadion Georgi Asparuhov, Bulgaria
Jun 25: Piazzola Sul Brenta Anfiteatro Camerini, Italy

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.