Sacha Baron Cohen is to play Freddie Mercury in a biopic about the late Queen singer’s life.

The actor is best known for his comic creations Borat and the gay fashion journalist Bruno.

The project will be co-produced by Robert De Niro and has the support of Mercury’s former bandmates, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, who will be musical consultants.

May told the BBC that Baron Cohen expressed interest in playing the gay singer two years ago.

He said: “We have Sacha Baron Cohen, which will probably be a shock to a lot of people, but he’s been talking with us for a long time.

“He’s been in on this project since we started talking about it seriously with Peter Morgan a couple of years ago.”

The film will focus on the build-up to Queen’s performance at the 1985 LiveAid festival.

No director has yet been attached to the project. It will be produced by GK Films, although with De Niro’s company Tribeca.

Graham King, of GK Films, said: “Freddie Mercury was an awe-inspiring performer so with Sacha in the starring role, coupled with Peter’s screenplay and the support of Queen, we have the perfect combination to tell the real story behind their success.”

Mercury died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991.