Can Freddie Mercury be replicated?
Written by Sarah
Biopics of musicians are really popular for one very simple reason. It has nothing to do with unraveling the life of a beloved figure or learning the stories behind the songs. People will talk a good game about “honoring the life” and “revealing the person” but it all boils down to one thing. The performance. Can this guy (or girl) accurately recreate this voice, this figure, we know so well?
What was everyone’s biggest fear about a Johnny Cash biopic? That no one could accurately recreate Cash’s sound. Why was Walk the Line so successful? Because Joaquin Phoenix sounded pretty much exactly like Cash. Why did Jamie Foxx win an Oscar for Ray? Because he did one hell of a Ray Charles impression. Why does Mystery White Boy, the Jeff Buckley biopic, continue to stall? Because as much as James Franco looks like Jeff Buckley, he doesn’t sing like him.
Sacha Baron Cohen was named yesterday as the man who will take on arguably the most challenging figure in all of music: Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. GK Films and Tribeca Productions are partnering to produce a script by Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland) about Queen that will culminate in their seminal performance at Live Aid 1985, considered one of the greatest live performances ever. The surviving members of Queen have formed Queen Films and will be participating in the production, and they have handed over all of Queen’s music. The soundtrack will be awesome.
As for Cohen, he faces a tall order. He does bear a striking physical resemblance to Mercury (tall, skinny, dark), but can he sing? I believe Cohen can embody Mercury—if anyone can be the wild, charismatic frontman that Mercury was, it would be an actor who commits to the level that Cohen does. But the vocals are worrisome. Mercury’s voice is so distinctive, and his range so great, that I worry about Cohen’s ability to hit the high notes. I’d hate for the performance to be ruined by a pitchy falsetto.
So what do you think? Can Cohen do it? Can he accurately recreate this voice, this figure we know so well?
Written by Sarah
Photos from Wenn.com