Queen guitarist Brian May has branded Sacha Baron Cohen an 'a***' - and says he is now looking for a "real actor" to replace the Ali G star in a new film about his band's legendary singer Freddie Mercury.

Baron Cohen had claimed he pulled out of the role, and criticised the remaining members of the band.

But May says that the controversial actor was dropped from the film, declaring: "He wasn't right for it."

May reveals the fall-out in an exclusive interview in The Mail on Sunday's Event magazine today.


The guitarist, 68, says: "Sacha became an a***. We decided he wasn't right for the role for very good reasons, which will become apparent if you watch what he's done recently. It's obvious that it wasn't going to work, him playing Freddie. We're hoping Ben Whishaw will do it. He's fabulous - a real actor."

May's reference to "recent work" is believed to be a side-swipe at Baron Cohen's comedy Grimsby, which flopped at the box office.

This spring, the only thing more dangerous than the world's greatest spy is his brother. Don't miss the hilarious new comedy by Sacha Baron Cohen.

The Queen star's comments follow an interview in which Baron Cohen claimed he had quit the film because it was less a biopic about Mercury than a film about how the band had continued after the flamboyant lead singer's Aids-related death in 1991.

Baron Cohen had said: 'A member of the band - I won't say who - said, "This is such a great movie because it's got an amazing thing that happens in the middle. Freddie dies."

'I go, "What happens in the second half?"

He goes, "We see how the band carries on from strength to strength."

'I said, "Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from Aids and then you see how the band goes on."

"They wanted to protect their legacy."

Sacha was attached to the project for six years before dropping out, and the We Will Rock You hitmaker admitted the movie is still some time away from entering production.

He said "We'll have a director - although we still haven't signed one up - and then hopefully we can step back and just look after the music side of it.

"We have arrived at a great storyline. But the film's not going out until it's right."

As well as claiming he was unhappy with the narrative structure of the film, Sacha, 44, recently admitted he also felt frustrated behind the scenes of the project after the band - Brian, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor - rejected a string of high-profile directors.

He said: "They asked me to write the movie, but I said, 'I don't know how to write a biopic'.

"So I got in Peter Morgan ('The Queen'), [but] they didn't like that.

"I brought in David Fincher who wanted to direct it, then Tom Hooper -- they were very specific about how they wanted to do it. But at the end of the day, it really was an artistic difference.

"Brian May is an amazing musician, but he's not a great movie producer."

- Bang! Showbiz