Queen drummer Roger Taylor defended the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody against criticism of a major timeline change from real life.
In the movie, Freddie Mercury tells his bandmates that he’s suffering from AIDS during rehearsals for their appearance at Live Aid. In reality, he wasn’t diagnosed until after the global concert, but the change increases the dramatic effect of the performance.
“It didn’t fictionalize the real story, only in detail,” Taylor told Classic Rock in a recent interview. “It messed with the timeline. But when you’re making a movie, which is approximately a hundred minutes long, you have to mess with the timeline to make it work. The movie has to work, that’s priority one. Even documentaries don’t stick to the absolute timeline, they are all squeezed and tweaked and altered, to be effective. It’s a fucking film! It’s not claiming to be a documentary.”
He previously discussed the removal of Sacha Baron Cohen from the project; Rami Malek was chosen to play Mercury instead. “I think he would have been utter shit!” Taylor said of Cohen. “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, ha! 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.”
Taylor described the effect of Bohemian Rhapsody as “delightful” and “so positive,” adding, “I feel that when we were looking at all the 17 scripts, we kind of got it right in the end. The balance is right. We wanted to take people on a journey, make them feel up and then down, then joyous at the end. … We sold even more tickets at our concerts, we suddenly had loads and loads of young people. Because Brian [May] and I are very senior these days.”