"We kind of saw Freddie in him"

Interview with Brian May
The members of legendary rock band Queen have participated quite actively in the making of the movie 'Bohemian Rhapsody' which pays homage to Freddie Mercury but also to the other fellow-musicians of the unimitable frontman.

He is 71 years old.


His first band was The Smile.


Guitar World has chosen him as the second most important guitarist of the world.

Q: What prompted you to get involved with the film?
Brian May: “That's the big question. I think, in truth, we were a little reluctant to get involved at the beginning, because we thought it would be difficult to make a film that would do Freddie justice. The idea had been suggested to us a lot over the years and eventually we realized that if we didn't get to participate, somebody else would do a film without us and we wouldn't be able to protect Freddie’s legacy, so we eventually got involved. It has been a long journey over nearly ten years, preparing and getting things ready, and in terms of directors and scripts. There came a point where Fox bought it. The producer, Graham King, really believed in the project from the beginning.”
Q: What are the elements that make the film work would you say?
Brian May: “Well, Graham pushed the button – or pulled the trigger – at the right time, when he felt that the right team was in place. Casting Rami Malek in the role of Freddie had a lot to do with it. Rami blew us away the first time we met him. We kind of saw Freddie in him and we could sense Rami’s passion. But, also, the other guys who play us are phenomenal, and I think the performances you see in the film reflect the fact that they completely lived it all, they became us, and they believed that they were us. It wasn't just an acting job for them. The same is true for Lucy Boynton who plays Mary Austin [Freddie’s girlfriend, then close friend]. Actually, all the way down the cast and the whole production team, you can feel the enthusiasm. Visiting the set, there was an amazing feeling of loyalty and passion.”
Q: What advice and tips did you give them? I believe you taught them a few tricks?
Brian May: “I love the story of Ben Hardy best, who came in and said, ‘Yeah, I play drums,’ but he was completely lying! He couldn’t play at all but he went away and learned and became an amazing proponent of Roger's style. We did spend quite a bit of time with them. Gwilym Lee was already a guitar player, but I showed him a few tricks. He got very into it, so that looking at the edits when we were working on the film, I kind of believed he was me.
Q: Can you talk a little more about Rami’s portrayal of Freddie? 
Brian May: “The first time we saw him was actually in Roger's flat. It must have been horrible for him, having us watching him for the first time. But we were really blown away by him and his ability to perform – he's incredible. I love the way he has captured not only Freddie’s great power and ebullience, but also his sensitive, vulnerable side, of which there was a lot. You know, he came from very small, humble beginnings, as you see in the film. Also, a lot of people think of Freddie as a flamboyant figure – they tend to forget that he was a brilliant musician. And the film shows how talented he was.”
Q: When you first met Freddie, did you realize his potential?
Brian May: “The simple answer is no, we did not know. He was full of dreams, full of mad fancies and insecurities – and ebullience and flamboyance. I don't think we realized his talent to begin with. But I remember a little instance in the studio with John Anthony, our first producer. I sang ‘Son and Daughter,’ [which he had written], and I had imagined that I would sing the song myself. Then Freddie sang it and John went, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard a voice like that,’ and that was one of the moments when we all went, ‘I guess that voice is pretty special.’ But Freddie was never happy with his work. He would always go back and say, ‘No. That wasn't good enough. I need to build on it and improve.’'
Q: The film feels so authentic visually… you lent the actors your own costumes? 
Brian May: “There was a moment with Gwilym, I remember. I looked through the book of all of the costumes he would be wearing, to play me, and I went, ‘Come and look through my whole archive if you like,’ so the guys came down and picked out a few things. Luckily, we still have a lot of our old stage clothes.”
(6 pictures)

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This week...
Budapest, Szépművészeti Múzeum, 06 April 2019 - 30 June 2019
Budapest, 02 April 2019 - 31 May 2019
Budapest, Budapest Jazz Club, 21 May 2019 20:00
Budapest, Örkény István Színház, 29 April 2019 - 26 May 2019
Budapest, Andrássy Élményközpont, 02 February 2019 - 31 May 2019
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