Ben Whishaw will be hoping to show that he is the champion when he screen-tests for the role of Freddie Mercury in a film about the phenomenally successful rock artist.
Whishaw, who played Q in the hit Bond film Skyfall, has to pass muster not only with the movie’s financial backers in Hollywood, but also with Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, who are closely involved with the project.
May has already publicly expressed his wish for the classically trained Whishaw to portray Mercury, who died in 1991. However, Whishaw has to be able to satisfy all the varied participants, including Los Angeles-based producer Graham King.
The matter of who will direct the film is the subject of intense negotiations, with rumours suggesting it will be Dexter Fletcher. The screen test, at which Whishaw will have to sing, is all very sensitive and delicate, and no one involved wanted to discuss it. However, I hear many of those connected to the project believe he would rock in the part. “He’s a chameleon — he can do anything!” one admirer said.
At one point, Sacha Baron Cohen was going to play Mercury, but that didn’t work out. The film, as yet unnamed, looks at the formation of Queen and runs through to their extraordinary gig at Live Aid in 1985.The highlight of their set — in fact, possibly the highlight of the whole event — was Mercury singing We Are The Champions. There’s also some early unconfirmed chatter that some of those close to the film like the idea of Robert Pattinson portraying guitarist May, though the actor is busy with several other projects and there are other actors who also fancy the role.