British actor Sacha Baron Cohen has officially been confirmed to play the role of Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic about the rock group Queen.
The shock comedian, made famous for his roles as Ali G on HBO, and later in films Borat and Bruno, will also produce, write, and direct the film, according to Queen’s manager, Jim Beach, who made the announcement Thursday night at the Artist & Management Awards in London, reports the Daily Mail.
“You have probably followed the saga of the famous Queen-Freddie Mercury biopic which has been developing in Hollywood for the last seven years,” Beach told the audience. “An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star.”
According to The Mail, Baron Cohen has been linked to the project for some time, but the band’s surviving members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, had reservations about handing the reins over to him, considering his previous projects.
Due to “creative differences” Baron Cohen dropped out of the project in 2013.
“In the end, we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting. What led us to that conclusion was the last three movies that he’s made – The Dictator, Les Miserables and Hugo,” May said in 2013. “He makes outstanding performances but they’re very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances.”
May also added: “And we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie — we didn’t think that could really happen with Sacha.”
Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946, in Zanzibar, Tanzania. He studied piano at boarding school in India and later at London’s Ealing College of Art. Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May, and John Deacon formed the group Queen in 1971.
The legendary showman died of AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia 20 years later in 1991, at age 45.