LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ready, Freddie, Go.
“Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen is set to play flamboyant rocker Freddie Mercury in a dramatic feature focusing on his glory days as the frontman of Queen, its producers said on Thursday.
The untitled film is being written by Peter Morgan, the British scribe behind “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland.” No director is attached yet.
Shooting will begin next year, said producer Graham King, whose GK Films is partnering on the project with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions, and Queen manager Jim Beach.
The project has the cooperation of Mercury’s estate and the three surviving members of Queen, a spokeswoman for GK Films said. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor will oversee the musical content of the film, which will feature both original Queen music and Mercury solo music. (Bassist John Deacon has retired from the music industry.)
The film will focus on a period of a few years leading up to what was arguably Queen’s greatest moment: its performance at the Live Aid charity concert in 1985, when the band mesmerized London’s Wembley Stadium and a worldwide TV audience with such hits as “We Will Rock You” and “Radio Ga Ga.”
The band continued touring and recording even as Mercury’s health deteriorated. A day after finally admitting he had AIDS, Mercury succumbed to the disease in 1991, at age 45.
Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar and educated in India, Mercury co-founded Queen in 1971 with May, Taylor and Deacon. The mustachioed and buff Mercury was never shy about his camp sensibilities even as the band drew part of its musical inspiration from the progressive and hard rock genres.
Queen hit the big time in 1975 with its fourth album, “A Night at the Opera,” which included the Mercury-composed anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Mercury also wrote such Queen hits as “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “We are the Champions.”
Off stage, Mercury lived a very private life, rarely consenting to interviews and never discussing his homosexuality.
Baron Cohen rose to fame in his envelope-pushing roles as a bumbling Kazakhstan reporter in “Borat” and as a fashionista in “Bruno.”
Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Todd Eastham