Just a couple of days ago, Fox pushed pause on their Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody citing the “unexpected unavailability” of director Bryan Singer. It turns out that the oddly phrased excuse was a bit of a dig at Singer himself since the other executives in charge of the 20th Century Fox production had apparently grown tired with Singer’s absences. Those conflicts have now resulted in Singer being fired from the project.
THR reports that difficulties between singer and lead actor Rami Malek had been mounting, and Singer’s absence from the London-based set led to his firing. Since the movie was already underway, recent no-shows from Singer resulted in cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel stepping in to direct on the days when there was no one at the helm. Thomas Sigel has been the Director of Photography for Singer’s X-Men movies, as well as Superman Returns, Valkyrie and Jack the Giant Slayer, as well as the pilot for The Gifted, so it suffices to say that the man knows how Singer operates after well over 20 years alongside the director.
Singer’s absences ruffled other feathers besides Malek’s; Tom Hollander, who plays Queen manager Jim Beach in the picture, briefly quit over the director’s behavior but was talked into returning, according to an unnamed THR source. Hollander has over 80 credits on his filmography dating back to 1981, so he’s not exactly a newbie to a film set. Malek’s own issues with Singer, which he reported to the studio, were described as Singer’s “not being present on set, unreliability and unprofessionalism.” So who acted as a go-between in this situation? Apparently Fox chairman/SEO Stacey Snider and vice chairman/president of production Emma Watts fired a warning shot before production began, setting a no-nonsense precedent with Singer explicitly. A Directors Guild of America rep was apparently also on set to monitor things.
This attempt at adult babysitting didn’t prevent tense confrontations between Singer and Malek, however, with the former rumored to have thrown an object during a disagreement. The tension never became physical and the two had supposedly buried the hatchet in order to resume filming, but Singer’s absence following the Thanksgiving break led to his termination.
Singer’s side of things? Apparently he’s claimed that “he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the tensions on the set.” The studio, meanwhile, has two weeks of principal photography remaining and is expected to name a new director soon.
Newton Thomas Sigel seems ready, willing, and able, no? It would be his first feature film as a director, and his first directorial project in over 10 years, but one would imagine that the bulk of the work is already done and Thomas Sigel seems the most well-equipped person available to step into the role in a timely manner.