Freddie Mercury’s Voice Used in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Movie
Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King revealed how he and his colleagues solved the problem of bringing Freddie Mercury back to life in the Queen biopic.
The frontman is played by Rami Malek, but the actor couldn’t replicate Mercury’s singing voice. The solution was to take recordings from Queen master tapes, with additional vocals recorded by Canadian singer Marc Martel. “Literally, you could close your eyes and it’s Freddie,” King told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “And that’s a very tough thing to do.”
He added that after co-producer Denis O’Sullivan found Malek, no one else was seriously considered for the role. “I was like, ‘That’s him,’” King said. “‘Done. Found him.’ There was never a second look or waiver from our side that this guy wasn’t Freddie Mercury.”
Malek admitted that he struggled to take the offer seriously at first. “I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” he recalled. “But when I spoke to Graham, I got the sense that this could actually be real. That was flooring. I felt massive excitement … followed by the extreme, daunting weight of the thing. It felt like something that could go away in a heartbeat.”
His research process included working with coaches on his movement and dialogue, and learning to speak with prosthetic teeth to mimic Mercury’s trademark overbite. “He had a real insecurity about that,” Malek said. “If you watch an interview with him, you see how often he’s trying to cover up his teeth with his lips or his hand.”
One of his favorite experiences was talking to Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor about their late colleague. “It was a beautiful thing to get it from them in person and see how much they cared for him,” he recalled.
King broke his silence over early reports that Sacha Baron-Cohen had signed up to play Mercury, then later quit, and discussed the actor’s comments about a script that included Mercury’s death, with the rest of the story exploring how the band continued. “Sacha was never officially attached to this project,” he insisted. “I never thought Freddie could be played by a white actor. And there was never a script where Freddie Mercury dies halfway through the movie. Never. I kept my mouth shut through that whole thing, but I’ll go official on that now.”
Explaining why the story ends at Live Aid in 1985, King said they "felt there was no need to go up to his death. We didn’t want to go that dark. What we did want to do was really do get into the underbelly of Queen and how they worked together and how they put these amazing library of songs together.”
Boheman Rhapsody opens on Nov. 2.