Brian May Says Casting 'Borat' Actor as Freddie Mercury Was "Near-Disaster"

Queen's Brian May says the Freddie Mercury biopic dodged a bullet when it lost actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as its lead. 

May said he, drummer Roger Taylor and the film's producers knew finding the right person to play Mercury would be a challenge. May tell's Classic Rock magazine that there were times when they thought "it was impossible."

Cohen wasn't the first actor attached to the role of Mercury, but he was by far the most prominent. The infamous provocateur has been frank about why he thinks it didn't work out. He and May have sparred publicly over the matter for years.

"Well, that was a near-disaster," May said of the brief collaboration with Cohen. "I think we realized just in time what a disaster that was going to be." And it actually wasn't rocket science to figure that out." (May has a doctorate in astrophysics, so even if it was rocket science, he would have been able to figure it out, theoretically.)

"But yeah, that's one of the rocks that we nearly hit," he concluded.

Of course if Cohen remained in the role of Mercury, Queen's team would never have found the film's eventual star, Rami Malek, who's received rave reviews for his portrayal, including from May and Taylor.

May has said he thinks Mercury would have enjoyed the film.

When asked whether Mercury could have been an actor, May said he couldn't see that happening.

"Patience was not one of Freddie's virtues," said the guitarist. "I think he would have found it difficult turning up every day on the set. I don't think that would have lasted long [Laughs]."

Bohemian Rhapsody this week became the highest-earning music biopic of all-time when it surpassed $500 million worldwide. 

Photos: Getty Images

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