Sacha Baron Cohen was given what many would consider the role of a lifetime: Freddie Mercury in an upcoming Queen biopic. But the Borat star says he reached a breaking point due to some creative differences in the storyline and left the still-unfinished film in 2013.
During an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Cohen made a rare, out-of-character appearance to promote his new film The Brothers Grimsby and gave an in-depth explanation of why he left the project despite years of work put into it:
"You’ve got to remember that they want to protect their legacy as a band, and they want it to be about Queen. And I fully understand that. [After] my first meeting, I should never have carried on because a member of the band—I won’t say who—said, ‘This is such a great movie, because such an amazing thing happens in the middle of the movie.’ I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.’ I go, ‘So you mean it’s a bit like Pulp Fiction, where the end is the middle and the middle is the end? That’s interesting.’ He goes, ‘No no no.’ So I said, ‘Wait a minute. What happens in the second half of the movie?’ And he said, ‘Well, we see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’ And I said, ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see [what happens to the band]."
Cohen also revealed that Peter Morgan (of Rush fame) was initially asked to the write the biopic, but the band didn't like his work leading the actor brought in David Fincher (Gone Girl) and Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl) as directors, but said Queen was very specific about the direction. Cohen ultimately chalked up the failed collaboration to an "artistic difference."
You can listen to the full Howard Stern interview here: