Brian May is keeping the Bohemian Rhapsody flame alive with new interviews and a visit to Freddie Mercury’s birthplace in Tanzania. He admits he is still reeling from the public response to the movie: “We thought it would do well with the fans, but we didn’t imagine how fully it’s been embraced. People are going to see it five, six times. They’re singing along and crying. I met people in Asia who saw it 30 times. It’s extraordinary. We couldn’t be happier.” But getting it to the big screen was not a smooth process.
May told Guitar Word: “There were lots of battles we had to face.”
Most people know by now about the early conflicts with actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who had a very different vision of Freddie for the movie, and then director Bryan Singer dramatically left the production towards the end of the shoot. But the band still faced one last hurdle.
The notoriously mild-mannered May fought with bosses at 20th Century Fox over something which actually perfectly sums up the entire intention and spirit of the film.
He wanted to record a quintessentially Queen version of the studio’s theme music. It’s a genius idea. The minute you hear the opening guitar, you know where yo are and what you are about to see as the memories flood back, but the that begins the picture.
May said: “They didn’t want me to do it because they thought it would open the door for lots of other things. But in the end, they let me do it, and they came through for us in every respect.”
Previously, he also discussed the issue over timeline inaccuracies, for example when 1978’s Fat Bottomed Girls was shown being played during the band’s 1974 tour.
He told Mojo: “I remember making a fuss about that… But I sat down with the film company and they explained that’s what you have to do if you want to tell a story. So these things are not mistakes. They’re done deliberately.”
May added: “You carry a story with you and treasure it, but when you agree to sell it, it’s not yours anymore… but they always treated us with great respect.
Sometimes we’d say, ‘You can’t do that.’ And they’d say, ‘OK, we won’t.’ And other times, ‘Yes, we can, because this is the story we all agreed to tell.'”