Borat goes Bohemian: Sacha Baron Cohen to play Freddie Mercury?

22 Sep

Crazy little thing called khrum

Deadline.com just announced that Sacha Baron Cohen, the genius behind the reality blending Borat and Da Ali G Show, is set to play the iconic, immortal Freddie Mercury. News that the Queen frontman was getting the royal treatment on-screen has been circulating for years, but they finally nailed it down and picked Baron Cohen to play the lead singer.

Physical similarities aside, this news comes as a bit of a surprise. We all know how Baron Cohen can get lost in a character, but those have always been whacked out inventions of his own design, and we’ve never really seen any real acting chops outside of Sweeny Todd. The news comes especially surprising given that the demon barber of fleet street himself, Johnny Depp, was tapped to play Mercury for the longest time. Could this be the role that finally puts Baron Cohen on the map, no longer on the outskirts as a millennial, Jackass-style court jester?

But let’s put all of that aside from now and focus on the big question mark surrounding this whole thing – no matter who plays Freddie Mercury, will they ask that actor to sing? Jamie Foxx did it in Ray, and Joaquin Phoenix nimbly walked the line, but those were impersonations, and this is Freddie Mercury; you can’t just recreate that voice. Johnny Cash and Ray Charles both had iconic voices, but they didn’t carry the register that Mercury so effortlessly displayed in hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Somebody To Love.” Can Baron Cohen sing? And if so, can he even get close to Mercury’s range? I doubt it, and they shouldn’t even try. Any impersonation will be glaring, and the still un-named director will have to come up with a way to overdub without having it come off cheesy,  like Jason Lee in Almost Famous.

If they can work out a way to recreate Freddie Mercury’s voice without compromising his legacy (or reality), and if Sacha Baron Cohen can actually dig deep and give us some substance (which he’s wholly capable of), we are extremely psyched about this news, as we’ve always said that Queen is probably the most underrated band of the 70’s. In the words of Borat himself – “I like.”

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