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First look at Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in controversial new biopic

Nick Duffy September 6, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: Actor Rami Malek speaks onstage at the Leadership Breakfast at Rainbow Room – Creating Quality Original Content panel presented by NBCUniversal during Advertising Week 2015 AWXII on September 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for AWXII)

The first image has been released of Rami Malek in a long-awaited and controversial biopic of Queen singer Freddie Mercury.

The picture released via Entertainment Weekly today shows Mr Robot star recreating an iconic image of the Queen singer performing during Live Aid.

Malek is portraying the gay music legend in an upcoming film, but the project has not been without controversy due to its apparent erasure of Mercury’s battle with HIV/AIDS.

A film based on the life of Queen singer Freddie Mercury has been in production for more than a decade, with actors Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw previously attached to the project.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

However, the film has undergone several contentious re-writes over the years, amid rumours of the surviving members of Queen interfering in the project.

Sacha Baron Cohen, who acrimoniously left the project with a fall-out with the band, accused them of trying to distort the story of Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1990.

The Borat star reportedly clashed with Brian May and Roger Taylor over the tone of the film, claiming that they wanted it to focus on the story of the band instead of a gritty, honest account of Mercury’s life, struggle with HIV/AIDS, and death.

(Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Entertainment Weekly write-up of the film suggests that this may be the case, with little or no emphasis on the AIDS crisis or Mercury’s death.

It says: [The film] chronicles Queen from 1970, when Mercury teamed with Brian May and Roger Taylor, until the band’s performance at Live Aid in 1985, six years before the singer died”.

Mercury only acknowledged his sexuality publicly after the 15-year period specified as the film’s timeframe.

Brian May and Roger Taylor are executive producers for the film.

Cohen previously said he had sought to make the film a “warts and all view of the legendary singer’s hedonistic lifestyle, but Mercury’s former bandmates were more concerned with protecting their legacy”.

He said: “There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. There are stories of little people walking around parties with plates of cocaine on their heads! [But] they wanted to protect their legacy as a band.”

The film’s official announcement confirmed the film would “recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid”, but does not mention Mercury’s personal life at all.

Brian May and Roger Taylor said: “Rami has great presence and he’s utterly dedicated to the project. He’s completely living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful.

“Yes folks, it IS finally happening. Award winning director Bryan Singer is the man who will be bringing the Queen and Freddie story alive.

If you’ve ever seen Singer’s X-Men films, or the groundbreaking movie The Usual Suspects, you’ll know this is a director with extraordinary imagination and style. A perfect choice to recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid, which we can reveal will be faithfully recreated for a key sequence the film. More on that very soon.

“Rami Malek has signed up to take on the challenging role of Freddie Mercury. Who could imagine a more perfect fit than this brilliant actor ? At this stage you probably know him best for TV’s Mr Robot.”

Other castings are yet to be confirmed.

More: AIDS, death, Freddie Mercury, Gay, HIV, life, Music, queen, singer

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