Mr. Robot star Rami Malek is in talks to play the role of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, a long-in-development movie about rock legends Queen, Deadline reports. X-Men director Bryan Singer is planning to direct the film, which producer Graham King has set up at 20th Century Fox and New Regency. Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor will produce the film’s music, while King and Jim Beach produce and Denis O’Sullivan executive produces. Malek, who won an Emmy for his work on Mr. Robot, is currently filming a remake of Papillon, in which he costars with Charlie Hunnam in roles originally played by Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen.
King, the producer of The Departed, The Town, and Hugo, has been trying to get a film about the arena-rock band off the ground for eight years. In its first incarnation, Sacha Baron Cohen was going to star from a script by Peter Morgan. (Morgan was a natural fit, since he also wrote The Queen.) When that fell apart, Ben Whishaw was going to play Mercury while Dexter Fletcher directed; Fletcher dropped out in 2014, a month after Tim Headington, a Texas oilman who’d been bankrolling King’s GK Films, walked away after taking a bath on Hugo. At that time, King hoped the Queen film—then titled Mercury—would end up at Sony; now it’s a joint Fox–New Regency production. The latest draft of the script is from Anthony McCarten, who wrote Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything.
The film is King’s second Queen-themed production, following 2009’s The Young Victoria, in which Emily Blunt played Queen Victoria, but Bohemian Rhapsody will reportedly focus less on royalty and more on rock ’n’ roll.