The problem with 90 percent of all music biopics is that it’s impossible to separate the actors from the legends they are portraying.
Dressing up Joaquin Phoenix in 50 shades of black for Walk the Line did nothing to distract one from the reality that the dude looked nothing like Johnny Cash.
Dennis Quaid’s spin on Jerry Lee Lewis in Great Balls of Fire! suggested the rock ’n’ roll pioneer’s real legacy was an endless appetite for not only his 13-year-old cousin, but also electrodes-on-the-nuts mugging.
The Doors’ main takeaway, meanwhile, was that the only thing more unsightly than bloated-years Jim Morrison in leather pants was pre-bloated-years Val Kilmer in leather pants.
Still, every now and then, a biopic gets it right. Think Kristen Stewart somehow melting in the role of a young Joan Jett in Floria Sigismondi’s marvelous The Runaways.
Or Straight Outta Compton delivering across the board knockout depictions of Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and Dr. Dre. And Marion Cotillard bleeding red wine and miserable desperation as Edith Piaf in La Vie en rose.
Based on its trailer, Bohemian Rhapsody looks like it might be every bit a classic as the song it’s named after.
You might remember the Queen biopic as having something of a rocky beginning. First Sacha Baron Cohen was cast as flamboyantly, well, flamboyant singer Freddie Mercury, the actor eventually leaving the production in 2013. Next director Bryan Singer departed the film under seemingly acrimonious circumstances to be replaced by Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle).
What hits hardest in the just-released trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody is the way Rami Malek doesn’t just look like singer Freddie Mercury, but instead that he somehow seems to have transformed himself into Freddie Mercury. Forget rocking the famous faded jeans, moustache, and wife-beater ensemble—the guy goes all-in, right down to Mercury's infamous overbite.
Watch below. And in the interest of not spoiling the magic, try not to think about how much Demetrius Shipp Jr. looked exactly like Tupac Shakur in the biopic disaster that was All Eyez on Me.