Sacha Baron Cohen Exits Freddie Mercury Role in Queen Movie

Sony and GK Films are backing the movie, which is being produced by Robert De Niro

Sacha Baron Cohen has exited the role of flamboyant singer Freddie Mercury in a long-gestating Queen movie due to creative differences, an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.

Sony and GK Films spent years developing the project, which had been courting Baron Cohen's "Les Miserable" filmmaker Tom Hooper to direct, though insiders say the surviving members of Queen refused to approve the choice.

Queen also was hoping for a more reverential depiction of the band and its late frontman rather than the warts-and-all portrayal Baron Cohen and writer Peter Morgan had planned for the iconic gay singer.

Also Read: Sacha Baron Cohen to Play Queen's Freddie Mercury

Graham King and Tim Headington are producing the film with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, as well as Queen Films.

King and Headington have overcome obstacles before, as Warner Bros. once put "Jersey Boys" into turnaround in 2012. Now, the movie is back on track with Clint Eastwood directing.

The producers will now have to find a new leading man in addition to a suitable director, though the project's loss of momentum has raised doubt as to whether the movie will ever get made under Queen's watchful eye.

Baron Cohen continues to focus on developing "The Lesbian" and an untitled spy comedy about James Bond's idiot brother under his Four By Two Films banner.

The news was first reported by Deadline.