Actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as the Queen frontman in 2010, but left the project three years later saying his vision for the film conflicted with that of Taylor and Brian May.
Cohen said he wanted the film to be a gritty, "warts-and-all" portrayal of Mercury's life, while May and Taylor wanted it to be a more celebratory one which protected "their legacy as a band."
In 2018, May described working with Cohen on the project as a "near-disaster."
"I think he would have been utter s--t," Taylor said. "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 thought he was an utterly brilliant subversive comedian. That's what he's great at."
Ultimately, Queen chose American actor Rami Malek for the role. His Academy Award for Best Actor was one of four Oscars won by the film in 2019. Bohemian Rhapsody also set a record as the highest-earning music biopic in history, earning well over $500 million in theaters worldwide.
Taylor praised Malek as having done a "brilliant job in an almost impossible role."