Sacha Baron Cohen revealed on The Howard Stern Show on March 8 why he dropped out of a movie about Freddie Mercury's life (video below).
The official statement from Cohen when he dropped out in 2013 was that there were “creative differences” with the surviving members of Queen, but the truth was more juicy, notes Stereogum.
Cohen told Stern:
There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. He was living an extreme lifestyle, debauchery. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party. You’ve got to remember, and I understand it, they are a band. They want to protect their legacy as a band. They want it to be about Queen, and I fully understand that.
Stern asked Cohen why he did not have that discussion with the members of Queen in the beginning:
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 it's got 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, "Alright, so you mean it’s a bit like Pulp Fiction, the end is the middle and the middle is the end? Alright, that's really a wild movie. Alright, that’s interesting. I never thought about that."
He goes, "No, no. Normal movie." I go, "Wait a minute, what happens in the second half of the movie?" 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.”
Cohen later spilled the beans, saying: "Brian May is an amazing musician, by the way. He wrote half the stuff, but he’s not a great movie producer.”
The comedian admitted that he tried to make the film work for six years even with his reservations, reports IndieWire.
They asked me to write the movie, but I said "I don’t know how to write a biopic." So I got in Peter Morgan, [but] they didn't like that.
I brought in David Fincher, who wanted to direct it, then Tom Hooper. They were very specific about how they wanted to do it. But at the end of the day, it really was an artistic difference.
Cohen said that another director eventually got attached to the film, and then dropped out.