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Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 09/17/2010

Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury. But can he sing? Let's go to the video clips!

By Jen Chaney

Sacha Baron Cohen and Freddie Mercury. (Reuters and AP)

As we noted in the morning mix, Sacha Baron Cohen has been tapped to play Freddie Mercury in a biopic based on the Queen frontman who died of AIDS in 1991.

The shock-comic certainly bears a physical resemblance to Mercury, a fact that Entertainment Weekly also mentions. I also must note that Cohen's got the chest hair for the part as well.

But, as someone best known for wearing body thongs as Borat, dropping ridiculous hip-hop slang as Ali G. and prancing around with vaguely Justin Bieber-esque hair (long before Bieber did) as Bruno, can Cohen handle a dramatic role like this one? And is there any way he can sing the way the powerful Mercury did?

For an attempt at answers, let's go to the video clips!

Given his ability to bury himself in so many other personas, I think Cohen has the potential to play Mercury convincingly. Comedy is harder than drama, as they say, and he's certainly proven he has the chops in that department.

The vocal work is another story. It's entirely possible Cohen won't have to sing as Mercury -- he could lip synch to the "Bohemian Rhapsodizer's" work, or at least rely largely on his vocals as a guiding track. But for sake of argument, let's say the actor tries to tackle the rock icon's sound himself.

That's a significantly tall order. Mercury's pipes were so powerful they could fill a massive arena, as well as any additional arenas that happened to be within a 50-mile radius. But let's see what Cohen can do in a few clips.

Here he is in his most high-profile singing role, as Pirelli in "Sweeney Todd."

Here's Cohen as Borat, singing an intentionally weak Kazakhstan anthem at a baseball game.

And here he is, again in Borat mode, crooning "You Be My Wife" on an episode of "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." (For the record, that outfit totally looks like something Mercury might actually have worn circa 1978.)



And now, for comparison's sake, here's Mercury...

Performing "Killer Queen" circa 1974:

Crushing "Somebody to Love" at a 1982 concert in England:

And firing up the crowd at Live-Aid in 1985:

Cohen's talented, but can he pull that off? You tell me in the comments.

By Jen Chaney  | September 17, 2010; 11:43 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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Comments

Sacha Baron Cohen is a chameleon and I have no doubt he can pull this off. Plus, he is as reclusive in his private life as Mercury was.

Posted by: lydandy | September 17, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I think Cohen can mimic the physical appearance and mannerisms but as far as the singing voice goes, I seriously don't think so. I am a big Queen fan and was sad when Mercury died, I hope this guy doesn't make a joke or mockery with his portrayal.

http://bit.ly/aAVFPm

Posted by: fakedude1 | September 17, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Noooooooooo way. Aside from being a rocker, Freddie had a good voice. Queen Live at Wembley is a classic. I can't think of any known actor that could capture him as a man and an artist. Whoever would be challenged to even come close to Freddie's voice. I agree with fakedude. I hope this doesn't turn out to be a dopey comedy or mockery. Cohen isn't one of my faves anyway. I think he's overdone his schtick.

Posted by: mooncusser | September 17, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Baron Cohen can probably do as good a job as anyone could, but he'll never pull off the vocals, they'll have to layer in Freddie's voice... watching these video clips kind of choked me up, GOd Bless Freddie... there will never be another.

Posted by: captainskye | September 17, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Looking at those, and particularly the 1982 Somebody to Love, I sat here thinking: Lord, have mercy. He killed it.

I don't know if Cohen can sing, but he'll do the rest well. It'll be good to draw attention to Mercury.

Posted by: kindathinker | September 18, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

What Kindathinker said. Will be fun, however it's done, and a good thing indeed to do. 'Everybody find me, somebody to love!', indeed...

Posted by: jbh3 | September 18, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Actually, now that I think about it, they should have chosen Prince Poppycock.

Posted by: jbh3 | September 18, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Isn't AIDS a proper bugger? Freddie may not have been careful enough, it seems. Out of Africa isn't just a movie.ciao

Posted by: boblusby | September 18, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I miss Freddie's voice and his amazing talent. NO ONE can do Freddie.

Posted by: butforthegraceofgod | September 18, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

"But for sake of argument, let's say the actor tries to tackle the rock icon's sound himself."

And here is where the whole blog post falls apart. :-|

Posted by: kingpigeon | September 19, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I think what a lot of posters are forgetting is that like Jamie Foxx in "Ray", Will Smith in "Ali", or Denzel Washington in "X", is that Sascha doesn't have to "be" Freddie. He merely needs to make you forget about the comparison for two hours, and honor his legacy.

Sascha can do that. No, he can't sing like Freddie. Nobody can, and nobody should try. But there's probably more to Freddie the Man than has been revealed, and that's where SBC is going to ply his trade.

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | September 19, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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