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LONDON — Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor has said James Bond co-star Ben Whishaw is at the top of the band’s wishlist to play legendary frontman Freddie Mercury in the long-planned biopic of the singer.
Taylor revealed Whishaw as the front-runner after being gently probed on the One Show, which airs on the BBC’s flagship channel BBC One in the early evening.
The drummer and singer is currently doing the British media promotional rounds with a solo album and a box set of his entire non-Queen catalog about to be released.
Along with Queen guitarist Brian May, Taylor has looked after all things for the band ever since Mercury’s death from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991.
When asked about the biopic and who might play Mercury, Taylor said the actor the band would like most has the initials “B.W.,” and when asked if that meant Whishaw, Taylor said: “Well, we hope so.”
Sacha Baron Cohen was originally attached to play Mercury but left the project earlier this year over creative differences.
Written by Peter Morgan (The Queen), the biopic is being mounted by producers Graham King, Tim Headington, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal alongside Queen Films.
Taylor said in the November issue of Mojo, a monthly music magazine, that progress was painstakingly sluggish, noting that he had thought the music industry moved slowly but it was nothing compared to the film business.
May, in an interview with Classic Rock magazine, also talked about why Cohen and the project parted company: “We [the band] felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting,” referencing the star’s “outstanding performances in The Dictator, Les Miserables and Hugo as being “very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances.”
Said May: “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 feel that could really happen with Sacha.”
The British media has been alight with theories and speculation since the summer about whether or not the project will ever get off the ground after Cohen’s exit and his potential replacement for the project.
The band’s support in casting Whishaw is a big plus in the his favor.
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