Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King hailed star Rami Malek for “driving that train” when director Bryan Singer was fired, and added that Malek was the only actor ever signed up to play Freddie Mercury.

The award-winning, record-breaking Queen movie suffered a series of problems during its creation. Among those, in 2013 plans to have Sacha Baron Cohen play Mercury were abandoned after three years of discussion, then in 2017, with just over two weeks of shooting left to complete, Singer was dismissed and Dexter Fletcher was brought in to finish the job.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his mother was very sick, and he’s the kind of guy that he needs to have 100 percent focus,” King said at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast on Saturday (via Variety). “He just said, ‘I want to hiatus the film,’ and deal with what he had going on in his life. And the studio wanted to finish the film.”

He added: “And of course, my job is to protect the film at any cost and that’s what I was there to do. We were such a family by then; Rami was driving that train every morning. … we just all did what we had to do to get the movie finished.”

Queen guitarist Brian May recently said the biopic came close to  “disaster” when Cohen was being considered, while the actor had previously described May as “an amazing musician” but “not a great movie producer.” They’re said to have disagreed over the form and content of the story.

“There was a lot of talk about different people playing Freddie Mercury and no one was actually signed to play Freddie Mercury,” King commented. “[N]o one was attached to play Freddie Mercury until Rami Malek. It was just a lot of talk – there was a couple of actors that wanted to play that role.”

Latest figures suggest Bohemian Rhapsody will soon have grossed $800 million since opening on Nov. 2. It’s already the biggest-grossing music biopic of all time and, after winning two Golden Globes, could go on to enjoy success at the Oscars.



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