Plans for a biopic on the life of legendary Queen singer Freddie Mercury have suffered a blow following the decision of actor Sacha Baron Cohen to pull out of the project over “creative differences”.
Variety said the actor’s manager confirmed the news, saying he had clashed with producers over the film’s tone.
The movie, which is backed by Queen, focuses on the period leading up to Live Aid in 1985 and Freddie’s famous performance.
The screenplay had been written by Peter Morgan of Frost/Nixon.
Sacha Baron Cohen first expressed interest in the project in 2011 and the role would have marked a break for a comic who has built a career playing outrageously offensive characters.
In September 2012, Baron Cohen said his next comic creation would be inspired by the true story of a Chinese billionaire who offered a $65 million (£40.2 million) dowry to any man who could woo his lesbian daughter.
Freddie Mercury died aged 45 of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS on 24 November 1991, only one day after publicly acknowledging that he had the disease.
He continues to be voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.
In April 1992, the remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust and organised The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness at Wembley Stadium to celebrate the life and legacy of Freddie.
The concert was broadcast live to 76 countries and had an estimated viewing audience of 1 billion people.
In 1987, Freddie told journalist David Wigg that he had no fears of becoming a lonely, rich 70-year-old.
“I’ve lived a full life and if I’m dead tomorrow, I don’t give a damn. I really have done it all”, he said.