A little over a year from now, we’ll all have a chance to see a new Bryan Singer movie called Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s biopic about the band Queen, likely with a heavy emphasis on Freddy Mercury, as played by Rami Malek. Except, of course, it won’t be a Bryan Singer movie. Not completely. Fox just fired him and brought in Eddie the Eagle’s Dexter Fletcher to finish up the final two weeks of filming and presumably all of post-production.
The story played out in the media fairly quickly. First, we heard Rhapsody had been forced to shut down production because Singer had yet to return to the set after Thanksgiving break. Then we heard Singer’s “unexpected unavailability” was for health-related reasons. Then Fox officially fired Singer due to absence and unprofessional behavior, which THR looked into and exclusively learned was likely a reference to Singer’s verbal and sometimes physical quarrels with Malek and frequent unannounced and unexplained no-shows to set which repeatedly forced his cinematographer to take over as director. Tom Hollander, who plays Queen manager Jim Beach, grew so annoyed he briefly quit the film before being talked into coming back, and Malek had already turned to the studio and producers to step in and fix things.
After the firing, it didn’t take Singer long to issue his own statement claiming the reports of his disagreements with Malek had been overblown and all he was truly guilty of was requesting time off to attend to an ailing parent as well as his own failing health. When those requests were denied, he took the time off anyway, thus his frequent absences from the set and thus his firing.
It’s a real he-said, studio-said, THR-said situation, and who knows what the truth of the matter is. However, here’s the part of the story I want to know more about, and it’s not the most obvious thing. I don’t really care what happened on that set. I want to know what led to this part of THR’s original report:
Singer had been warned before production began by both Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and Fox Film vice chairman and president of production Emma Watts that they wouldn’t tolerate any unprofessional behavior on his part. A representative from the Directors Guild of America also arrived on set to monitor the situation.
That Bohemian went off the rails isn’t really the story here; that Fox was already worried Singer might behave unprofessionally is. Why would Singer, a man who has either directed or produced 7 different movies for Fox since 2000 and has partnered with Fox on multiple TV shows, need to be told to behave himself by the chairman and vice chairman of the studio? After working together for that long, shouldn’t that just be assumed?
Is this just because of An Open Secret, the documentary whose accusations against Singer still linger even though its specific charges of child sex abuse against him have since been disproven in court? Or had Singer’s relationship with the studio already been poisoned somehow by unprofessional behavior on other projects? According to THR, Singer also momentarily disappeared during the production of X-Men: Apocalypse and Superman Returns. Why is this the first we’re hearing of that, though? And what was his excuse then?