Brian May says Ben Whishaw is ‘very keen’ to play Freddie Mercury in biopic


31 October 2013 by Tim Walker

Brian May, the Queen guitarist, says he hopes Ben Whishaw, the James Bond actor, will play Freddie Mercury in the forthcoming film about the singer’s life.

Brian May would like to see Ben Whishaw play Freddie Mercury in the upcoming film

Brian May at Diableries Press Launch- with skeletons
Brian May at the launch of his new book on devilment, ‘Diableries’. Photo: Yvves Salmon

Ben Whishaw may not have the physique of the late Freddie Mercury when he was in his prime, but the lithe 33-year-old actor would appear more or less to have the part in the bag in the forthcoming biopic about the Queen frontman.

“We’ve been talking to Ben and we’re very keen and last time we spoke he was very keen,” Brian May, the band’s guitarist, tells Mandrake at the British Library for the launch of his co-written book Diableries – Steroscopic Adventures in Hell. With some understatement, he admits that the process of casting an actor to play Mercury in the film has proved troublesome. “Casting Freddie is hard. It’s a lot of things we need, but we need to get his essence.”

Sacha Baron Cohen had originally been seen as a shoo-in, but last month he withdrew from the project, citing creative differences with Queen. May says that, from their side, the fear had been that he would put too much of himself into the part and not enough of Mercury.

“I think that he would have been very distracting,” he says. “That’s the conclusion we came to.”

By the way, May agreed to differ, too, with his bandmate Roger Taylor when it came to the artistic merits of We Will Rock You, the West End musical about Queen. Taylor had called it “crass,” but May says: “I’d like to see it run for ever and I think it will. We’ve just opened a tour in the States. I think it is very underestimated because people come out and they feel very happy. The music is good, but, really, the story is very well handled and it’s very true. It was for me a labour of love.”

His new book, written with Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming, also means a lot to the guitarist. “It’s taken years restoring the images and discovering what they mean,” he says of the book of demonic 3D images from the 19th century. “I’m just glad we can share them now and attract a new audience.” More information on signings and events with Brian May here.