It’s defied expectations with its string of awards nominations, including an Oscar win for its leading man Rami Malek, while being a crowd-pleasing, singalong delight for fans.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet.
From that iconic Live Aid performance to Rami Malek’s jaw-dropping transformation into a rock legend, we reveal the best bits about Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as fascinating facts about the film, who’s in the cast, and more...
Who’s in the cast?
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury
The American actor is best known for his recurring role as computer hacker Elliot Alderson in TV series, Mr Robot, for which he’s been nominated for multiple Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG awards.
Malek plays Queen's flamboyant front man Freddie Mercury in the biopic, which covers Freddie’s early years as an aspiring singer all the way up until the band's show-stopping set at Wembley Stadium.
Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor
Many British fans will recognise Hardy from his role as Peter Beale in BBC One’s EastEnders, but he’s since smashed Hollywood with successful film roles, including as Archangel in the superhero film, X-Men: Apocalypse.
Hardy plays Queen drummer Roger Taylor in Bohemian Rhapsody. The real-life Taylor, still performing as Queen with Brian May, served as an executive music producer on the film.
Gwilym Lee as Brian May
The Welsh actor started his career in TV with roles in Fresh Meat, Jamestown and Midsomer Murders.
In Bohemian Rhapsody, he plays the band’s lead guitarist, donning a fake curly wig like his real-life counterpart.
During the filming of the scene in which the Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo is recorded, May - who, like Taylor, served as an executive music producer - arrived on set unannounced and watched Lee work through the scene. That must have been unnerving!
Watch a clip of May performing a guitar solo during the filming of that scene below:
This clip is stolen from @bryanjaysinger, who was evidently filming it on his iPhone. When the BR team were shooting this scene, I happened to be around, so Gwil invited me to have a go ! How did I do, folks ? Well, obviously not quite as good as Gwil ! He’s a trained artist ! 😊 We had too much fun ! I’d like to see the rest of what happened, captured by the film cameras which were still rolling ... some day. In case you’re wondering why this solo doesn’t sound like the ‘out-take’ solo in the film, I only had the idea to make that happen later, when we were polishing the soundtrack. In any case, we wouldn’t have had the facilities to do that on the day of the shoot. In the film, you hear a variant take on the Bo Rhap solo which just MIGHT have been the one previous to the final one which made it onto the record! Might ! That’s if it hadn’t been a genius first-take keeper. Ha ha ! I honestly don’t remember ! A million thanks to @mrgwilymlee Bri
Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon
The American actor will perhaps be best known for his role as little Tim in 1993 film Jurassic Park, but since dicing with dinosaurs he has appeared in films including The Social Network and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
Mazzello plays the band’s bass guitarist, John Deacon, who was not involved in the making of the film except in granting song rights.
Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin
Boynton was born in New York City but grew up in London, with her first film role coming as the young Beatrix Potter in 2006’s Miss Potter. She followed that with roles in Sing Street and Murder on the Orient Express.
She plays Freddie’s best friend and ex-fiancée Mary Austin, and is actually Rami Malek’s girlfriend in real life.
The film also features: Aidan Gillen as Queen’s manager John Reid; Tom Hollander as another of Queen managers, Jim Beach; Allen Leech as Freddie Mercury’s manager Paul Prenter; Aaron McCusker as Freddie Mercury’s longtime partner, Jim Hutton, and Mike Myers as fictional music executive, Ray Foster.
Buy Bohemian Rhapsody Bonus Edition and watch on your TV box
3 reasons to watch Bohemian Rhapsody...
1. Rami Malek’s astonishing transformation
The first thing you notice about Rami Malek in the film is that he looks more like Freddie Mercury than the man himself.
To become the Queen front man, Malek donned a prosthetic nose, various moustaches, a succession of wigs (long/short/fringe/no fringe), and of course, a set of fake front teeth.
Within a few minutes of watching, you’re so immersed in Malek’s performance that you forget he’s wearing prosthetic teeth, and it feels like you’re watching Mercury himself on screen.
The teeth were in fact Malek’s idea. Mercury actually had four extra teeth in the back of his jaw, which pushed his front teeth forward to give him an overbite.
Speaking at the film’s New York premiere, Malek said the teeth took some getting used to.
“I asked to have the teeth almost a year prior to filming, even though I didn’t know if we were going to do the movie or not," he revealed.
“It took some time getting used to. I wanted to be comfortable with them on as much as I could, because it was difficult to talk with them on, let alone sing with them.”
In addition to the facial transformation, Malek had to prepare for the role physically, putting himself on a “very specific diet” and bulking up for filming.
He told The Wrap: “Immediately I had to drop muscle and weight and go into shooting young Freddie, who is very scrawny.
“I just had to be really cognisant of when to work out and when to crash diet. I don’t recommend it for anyone.”
His transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed by critics, who praised Malek's “intensely thoughtful, insight-rich” channelling of the famous singer.
“This was the scariest endeavour of my life," Malek admitted.
"The first thing I thought was ‘How am I going to fill his shoes?’ He was a person who people revered as a legend, but also a deity. He’s a rock god.
“But I knew I couldn’t pass this up. I jumped all in and I put everything I could into it. It’s been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience.”
Malek was also tipped for awards nominations after the film was released, and scooped the 2019 Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG award.
In February 2019, Malek also won the prestigious Best Actor award at the Oscars - his first ever nomination at the Academy Awards.
2. Crazy Little Thing Called Music
Queen are thought to have sold up to 300 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists.
They’ve been labelled the “greatest band of all time”, by Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose, so it’s perhaps no surprise then that the Bohemian Rhapsody film is now officially the highest-grossing music biopic of all time.
And just a few weeks after the films release, Bohemian Rhapsody became the most-streamed song of the 21st century with 1.6billion streams.
With original band members Brian May and Roger Taylor involved in the production, the film is rich with Queen’s greatest hits, including Somebody To Love Crazy Little Thing Called Love and the epic title track itself.
Malek did his own singing on set, but for the final cut his voice was mixed with both Mercury’s real vocals from master tapes, and the voice of singer Marc Martel.
The result is a crowd-pleasing movie that takes you back to Queen’s heyday. No wonder singalong versions of the film have proved so popular.
3. That iconic Live Aid scene
It only lasted a little over 20 minutes, but Queen’s legendary 1985 Live Aid set at Wembley Stadium will go down in history as one of the best rock performances of all time.
And Rami Malek’s sensational, uncanny performance as Freddie Mercury in the movie version is undoubtedly the best scene in the whole film.
It’s all the more impressive when you find out it was filmed on the first day of filming. In one take!
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Malek confessed: "You're not going to believe this, but one of the greatest rock performances in history, it's considered maybe the greatest, for some reason our producers thought it would be a good idea to start with that on day one.”
He told Deadline.com that he was “running on pure adrenaline” throughout the take, and felt like a proper rock star on stage.
"We brought in three cranes with cameras and ran the entire 22-minute set.
“It was the best take we ever did. You’re running on pure adrenaline. My heart is pounding just thinking about it.
“You realise how much adrenaline was coursing through [Mercury’s] veins before 75,000 people. Really, I love acting. To add into this rock star feeling, it was like being on drugs.”
And to top it all off, the BT TV Film Store Bohemian Rhapsody Bonus Edition includes the full 20-minute version of Malek’s performance, with two added songs not seen in cinemas: We Will Rock You and Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Give Malek the Oscar already.
Trivia: Did you know…
1. Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno) was initially set to star as Freddie Mercury when the film was first announced in September 2010, but this didn’t materialise after creative differences with Queen. Ben Whishaw and Daniel Radcliffe were also both rumoured for the role before Rami Malek was hired.
2. Bob Geldof, who spearheaded the 1985 Live Aid gig and is played in the film by Dermot Murphy, actually visited the Bovingdon Airfield film set where that sequence was recreated. According to IMDB, he was blown away by the similarity with the Live Aid concert that he had organised three decades earlier.
3. Mike Myers reportedly arrived on set in character as bearded music executive Ray Foster, and insisted on using his British accent even when the cameras weren't rolling.
4. After filming wrapped, Malek had his prosthetic teeth cast in gold as a memento from the shoot.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Malek said: “Not only did I save [the teeth], I cast them in gold. And that’s not something I would normally do.
“But I thought, what is the most audacious, ostentatious thing Freddie would do?”
Malek later confirmed he brought the gold teeth with him to the Golden Globes, keeping them in his chest pocket. They must have been a good luck charm, because he took home the Best Actor award.
5. [SPOILERS AHEAD] American Idol fans may spot a runner-up Adam Lambert in the film. The singer - who has toured with May and Taylor in recent years as the band's frontman - confirmed his cameo in an interview with Access, calling it “ very, very mysterious”.
So when is it? In the film, the band take a truck stop during their North American tour. Mercury calls then-fiancée Mary Austin from a pay phone, when a man approaches him before walking to a public toilet (it’s suggested they later hook up).
That man is Adam Lambert! He tweeted a photo of the character in question, leaving fans to admit that they had no idea it was him:
6. But Lambert’s is not the only cameo in the film! If you look closely during the Live Aid scene, Taylor and May are among the technicians watching the concert from the scaffolding above the stage.
Watch Bohemian Rhapsody if you liked…
A Star Is Born, The Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, The Runaways, Sing Street.
What the fans are saying:
Just seen #BohemianRhapsody for the second time. Brilliant. Spine tingling and emotional. You've taken my heart and now you leave me...fantastic cast did the guys justice. Freddie RIP— Rebecca Tilbury (@aworkingmumof2) January 16, 2019
Just went to the cinema to see the amazing @QueenWillRock #BohemianRhapsody film #singalong What an absolutely fantastic experience. We were all dancing, clapping, cheering & singing. Go see it! It's tremendously fabulous darling! 😘 @DrBrianMay @OfficialRMT #freddymercury pic.twitter.com/wKRuKItkT0— Angela Aldridge (@Angela_Aldridge) January 11, 2019
Watch the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody:
What’s in the BT TV Film Store Bonus Edition?
Full Bohemian Rhapsody Movie (134 min) - Watch the full feature film, starring Rami Malek as Queen’s extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet.
Full Live Aid Music Set (20 min) - Watch the full 20-minute movie version of the greatest live performance in the history of rock ‘n roll with two added songs not seen in cinemas: We Will Rock You and Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Rami Malek: Becoming Freddie (15 min) - Explore the monumental challenge Rami Malek undertook when stepping up to portray perhaps the greatest frontman in rock and roll history.
The Look And Sound Of Queen (25 min) - Filmmakers and band members discuss the journey of bringing Bohemian Rhapsody to the screen.
Recreating Live Aid (20 min) - A deep dive into the film’s faithful recreation of Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance.
More musical biopics in the BT TV Film Store:
Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic Ray is available to buy or rent from BT TV now, as is the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line. For something a little more jukebox, Jersey Boys is available to rent from BT TV now, and Mamma Mia 1 & 2 is available to buy now.
Images: © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.