There was surprising news last week when it was revealed that filming on the upcoming biopic of the band Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, had been put on hold after director Bryan Singer failed to return from a Thanksgiving hiatus. 20th Century Fox said it was due to Singer’s ‘unexpected availability’, while the director said it was due to unspecified health issues.
Now things have taken a further turn, as Fox has fired Singer from the movie, and also closed the offices of his production company on their LA studio lot. He has had a long relationship with the studio, having directed four X-Men movies for them.
The firing comes amidst reports that the post-Thanksgiving absence wasn’t the first time he’d been absent from the Bohemian Rhapsody set, with director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel stepping in to cover for him. Singer’s behaviour and constant lateness also allegedly caused major friction with the cast, resulting in a major bust-up (and later reconciliation) with lead actor Rami Malek, who’s playing Freddie Mercury. It’s been suggested Malek and his representatives went as far as to officially approach the studio about what they felt was Singer’s lack of professionalism. That resulted in representatives from the Directors Guild of America and the studio heading to the set to monitor the situation. There are also reports that the fellow actor Tom Hollander walked from the film due to Singer, but was then convinced to return to the set.
It’s said this isn’t the first time Fox has had issues with Singer and his time-keeping, with suggestions that the studio even had a specific meeting with the director before he headed to London to film Bohemian Rhapsody to tell him they wouldn’t tolerate any erratic behaviour.
The director has hit back saying that his firing was unreasonable as he’d failed to return from the Thansgiving break as he needed to help look after a seriously ill parent, and that the studio had refused. He’s released a statement, via THR, saying, “Bohemian Rhapsody is a passion project of mine. With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control.
“Rumors that my unexpected departure from the film was sparked by a dispute I had with Rami Malek are not true. While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving.”
Fox has said they hope to hire a new director shortly and complete filming on the movie as soon as possible. The plan is still to release the film around Christmas 2018.