Why The Bohemian Rhapsody Cast Wasn't Happy To Start Filming With The Live Aid Scene

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in 1985 Live Aid in Bohemian Rhapsody
(Image credit: (Fox))

Among the many memorable numbers pulled off in Bohemian Rhapsody, replicating Queen's 1985 iconic Live Aid set is unquestionably the most massive and jaw-dropping. Queen’s 22-minute Live Aid performance has long been considered the band's best performance, and the music blockbuster went there!

For actors Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joe Mazzello, playing the set was the first thing the cast shot -- and they were reportedly not thrilled about it. In the special features of the new Bohemian Rhapsody home release (via Express), behind-the-scenes footage is shown of the finale. Producer Graham King discussed what it was like to start in the deep end:

Starting the production with Live Aid was madness. It was such a full-on thing starting at the deep end... They were not happy that Live Aid was the first week of shooting because they wanted to get their feet wet and build to it. ... Due to weather in the UK, we wanted to get Live Aid done. So when they embraced it and accepted that I wasn’t going to change the schedule, then it became 'Let's celebrate it. Let’s use Live Aid as a way to celebrate Freddie’s life and the music.'

Sounds like the Bohemian Rhapsody cast were feeling ‘under pressure’! For the massive sequence, a full-size Wembley stage was built, and for five days the actors portraying Queen replicated the performance. Rami Malek, who played frontman Freddie Mercury, even insisted the Live Aid scenes be shot in one take to keep the energy of the performance intact.

The scene is the most important and emotional part of Bohemian Rhapsody. It culminates the entire film, and if it wasn’t done right, it just wouldn’t have been the same. Not to mention the band members were present for some of the filming of the Live Aid sequence, since they were heavily involved in the making of Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen guitarist Brian May commented on the rough first few days as well. Here’s what he said:

They plunged in at the deep end, that was like the pinnacle performance they had to pull off right at the beginning at the start of shooting. Which is tough, but they had it down.

In the end, the Live Aid scene was certainly worth the stress for the actors as it contributed to the film’s huge worldwide box office success and award season recognition.

While the theatrical release includes 14 minutes of the Live Aid performance, the new home release includes the full 22-minute set filmed of the actors. This will certainly be a draw for fans who would like to see more of the cast and crew’s work on the movie. Bohemian Rhapsody is now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.