Queen’s Roger Taylor Slams Sacha Baron Cohen Years After He Almost Played Freddie Mercury In Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek in Bohemi Rhapsody and Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat 2
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox/ Amazon Studios)

Biopics are a tried and true genre in the film world, usually resulting in Awards Season attention. Case in point: 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which told the story of Queen icon Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek ultimately won an Academy Award for his performance, but he wasn’t the only actor who auditioned for the role. Now Queen’s Roger Taylor has slammed actor Sacha Baron Cohen years after he almost landed the role of Freddie in the movie.

Roger Taylor is the acclaimed drummer of Queen, who was played by actor Ben Hardy in Bohemian Rhapsody. The award winning biopic clearly meant a great deal to members of the band, and those who knew Freddie Mercury in his life. And it seems he wouldn’t have been happy if Borat actor Sacha Baron Cohen landed the role over Rami Malek. As she recently shared,

I think he would have been utter shit. Sacha is pushy, if nothing else. He’s also six inches too tall. But I watched his last five films and came to the conclusion he’s not a very good actor. I might be wrong there. I thought he was an utterly brilliant subversive comedian, that’s what he’s great at. Anyway, I think Rami did a brilliant job in an almost impossible role.

Shots fired. It seems that Roger Taylor doesn’t appreciate the talents of Sacha Baron Cohen, who was seen in serious acting roles like The Trial of the Chicago Seven. In fact, he thinks the 50 year-old Oscar nominee is “utter shit” as a performer, and wouldn’t have gone well in Bohemian Rhapsody. Tell us how you really feel, Roger.

Roger Taylor’s comments to Metro UK are sure to turn a few heads, despite Bohemian Rhapsody arriving in theaters a few years ago. While Rami Malek put a ton of heart (and teeth) into his performance as Freddie Mercury, it was a coveted role that other actors would have killed for. That includes Sacha Baron Cohen, who was originally attached to the role when the movie was developing back in 2010. The Borat icon would eventually depart due to creative differences, making room for Malek to take on the mantle… and eventually an Academy Award.

While Queen’s Brian May reportedly approved of Sacha Baron Cohen’s casting at the time, it’s clear that the rest of the band didn’t quite agree. Roger Taylor doesn’t seem to think he’s a very strong factor, despite his years of experience. One can only imagine how different Bohemian Rhapsody might have been with a different leading actor.

Rami Malek’s performance in Bohemian Rhapsody was acclaimed, but there’s one way Sacha Baron Cohen might have had an advantage over the No Time to Die star. Namely because Cohen has a strong singing voice, as proven from performances in Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables. By comparison, Malek lip synched throughout his performance as Freddie Mercury. Regardless, that’s what Roger Taylor seems to prefer.

Bohemian Rhapsody is available to own now, with some fans hoping a sequel happens. Be sure to check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.