Movie audiences got their first glimpse of the hotly anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with the release of the film’s first trailer on Tuesday. The trailer promptly set off controversy.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” stars Rami Malek as Mercury and, based on the trailer, traces its subject’s rise from aspiring singer-songwriter to era-defining superstar. But one Hollywood heavyweight cited the current publicity as indicating that the film, due out this fall, may downplay the Queen frontman’s sexuality as well as his battle with AIDS.
Writer-producer Bryan Fuller, who created the television series “Pushing Daisies” and “American Gods,” tweeted his distaste for what he perceived as the “hetwashing” of Mercury’s story on Tuesday. The real-life Mercury was, by varying accounts, gay or bisexual.
In a second tweet, Fuller attached a screenshot of 20th Century Fox’s synopsis for the film. The studio’s description notes that Mercury faced “a life-threatening illness,” but does not specify HIV or AIDS.
The star died in 1991 at age 45, just one day after publicly coming forward about his long-rumored diagnosis.
Responding to fans who took issue with his criticisms, Fuller, who is openly gay, suggested that the creative team behind “Bohemian Rhapsody” did not “respect [Mercury’s] identity.”
When contacted by HuffPost, a spokeswoman at 20th Century Fox had no comment on Fuller’s remarks.
The latest criticism, whether premature or not, follows a series of hiccups that “Bohemian Rhapsody” has experienced in its journey to the big screen.
“Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen had long been slated to play Mercury, but reportedly left the project in 2013 over disagreements as to how the movie ―
which includes Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor on its roster of executive producers ― would portray the singer’s private life.
“Not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you see how the band carries on,” Cohen later told radio host Howard Stern.
A year after Cohen’s departure, director Dexter Fletcher quit the film, citing “creative differences” with producer Graham King.