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Freddie Mercury to be immortalized in biopic from Theory of Everything writer

The Theory of Everything writer Anthony McCarten has been tapped to write the script for a new Freddie Mercury biopic from GK Films, tentatively titled Bohemian Rhapsody, according to Deadline.

It’s a movie that has been in the works for quite some time, first making news when comedic actor Sacha Baron Cohen signed on to star in 2010. Baron Cohen eventually dropped out from the project in 2013, and many in the industry considered the project dormant. But, having hired McCarten to pen the script, producers are now courting another British actor, Spectre’s Ben Whishaw (aka Q), to play Mercury.

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Sony Pictures may also be on board to produce the film, holding the rights to the project until executives have an opportunity to read the new script.

Whoever producers get to star, the studio will likely have an excellent screenplay. McCarten knows his way around biopics, having won two academy awards for his role as a producer and screenwriter for The Theory of Everything, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. And there’s already a story to adapt; Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan wrote a draft of the film back when Baron Cohen was attached.

Baron Cohen reportedly left the project over creative differences with Queen’s surviving band members, who allegedly didn’t want a warts-and-all music film a-la Walk the Line.

Guitarist Brian May, however, said it was Cohen’s distracting comedic past that was the problem, and was quoted in Rolling Stone saying, “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 – in which he makes outstanding performances, but they’re very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances. And we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie.”

The latest revision of the film has no set release date, and, with a script yet to be written and an unconfirmed cast, is probably still a few years away from the silver screen.