Director Dexter Fletcher has revealed that it was Rami Malek, the lead star of Bohemian Rhapsody, who first approached him to replace Bryan Singer on the Freddie Mercury biopic as the actor thought he could do a “better job”.
It was in December 2017 when Singer, who was originally attached with the project as a director, was fired by 20th Century Fox over his repeated absences from the film’s set.
He was replaced by Fletcher, who had started working on another biopic, Rocketman, based on the life of music icon Elton John.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fletcher recalled the call that he received a call from Malek where the actor urged him to save the project.
“Rami was like, ‘We fucking need you, man. We need somebody. If you come to set and s**t on the floor, you’ll still do a better job than this guy’,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher, 53, was the first choice for the director’s chair but he was not hired because his take was R rated and makers wanted to make a PG 13 movie. It was then that the studio brought in Singer.
Talking about his comeback to the film, the director said, “I want to be a guy where the folks go, ‘Well, he’s f**king reliable. That’s good.’ Because I’ve got drive. I want to be somewhere.”
“I want them to be like, ‘OK, we need to put together a movie. Who can we trust with that money? Well, he f**king got us there and delivered’,” he added.
Fletcher said he had pitched the film as an ‘R-rated’ project which would have explored everything about Mercury, even his sexuality.
“I was like, ‘It’s got to be R. It’s got to have f***ing angst and be about an immigrant, a gay man, all the outsider values’,” he said.
The director said it felt like a “boot in the teeth” when the studio decided to make a PG13 film.
“It was like, ‘The money’s not there. We’re not doing it.’ But look, just because you put all your heart into something doesn’t mean to say it’s right. They (Fox) were right, 900 million dollars right,” Fletcher added.
Despite its controversies, Bohemian Rhapsody emerged as one of the big winners at the 91st Academy Awards. The film won four Oscars at the ceremony, including the Best Actor for Malek.
Fletcher’s Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton as Elton John, will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.