English actor Ben Whishaw, famous for his role as Q in Skyfall, has replaced funny man Sacha Baron Cohen in the forthcoming biopic of Freddie Mercury.
Mercury, who co-formed Queen with Brian May and Roger Taylor in 1970 and fronted the rock giants until his untimely death in '91, was one of music's most colourful and enigmatic vocalists and performers.
Sacha Baron Cohen had long been linked with the role, and eventually signed on to play him in 2010, but dropped out a few months ago after lengthy discussions with May and the studio.
What led us to that conclusion was the last three movies that he's made – The Dictator,Les Miserables and Hugo – in which he makes outstanding performances, but they're very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances...And we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie. You have to really suspend that disbelief – the man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn't think that could really happen with Sacha.
Whishaw may not be a name that roles off the tongue outside of the UK, but he has garnered some worthy praise for his work in a slew of British movies and TV shows over the past eight years or so and could really become a breakout star with this performance. As well as Skyfall, he also appeared in the Wachowski's Cloud Atlas and depicted Bob Dylan in I'm Not There.
Actor turned director Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill, Sunshine On Leith) will take charge of the biopic, with Peter Morgan (The Last King Of Scotland, Rush) apparently taking on the writing duties.
Deadline is reporting that the movie will tell the story of Mercury's early years and the formation of Queen, culminating in their epic Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985, regarded by many as one of the greatest concerts in music history.
No official date has been announced yet but it's likely the movie will drop some time in 2014.