20th Century Fox has fired director Bryan Singer from the Rami Malek-starring Bohemian Rhapsody. Per THR, the decision was the result of Singer’s multiple absences from the set of the Queen biopic. Malek, who portrays Freddie Mercury, is also reported to have clashed with Singer on set.
Production shut down on Dec. 1 due to Singer’s “unexpected availability” after a Thanksgiving break, but there is precedent for Singer’s behavior in the past. During the production of his films Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse (the latter also a Fox production), Singer also mysteriously disappeared, though both of those projects were eventually completed. Singer’s firing from Bohemian Rhapsody comes with just two weeks left in principal photography.
Singer’s tardiness and “erratic behavior” and “unprofessionalism” reportedly created rifts between the director and stars Malek and Tom Hollander, who portrays Queen manager Jim Beach—Hollander is said to have quit due to Singer’s behavior before later being convinced to come back on. Additionally, Singer and Malek are said to have had a confrontation that involved the director throwing an object. On some occasions, cinematographer and frequent Singer collaborator Thomas Newton Sigel stepped in to direct during Singer’s absences.
But Singer disputes these reports, saying in a statement, “I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first.”
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.
The director also denied that such a confrontation with Malek took place.
But meanwhile, THR also reports that Bad Hat Harry, Singer’s production company, has completely vacated their office spaces off the 20th Century Fox lot. And with Singer back in the limelight at the same time as the “Harvey Weinstein effect” is purging men from various media industries for sexual misconduct, past allegations against Singer of pedophilia, predatory behavior and sexual assault have been brought up yet again. Most notably, Singer was called out by Jessica Chastain, who is starring in the forthcoming Singer-produced X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
The call-out came after allegations of a similar nature came out against Kevin Spacey, who won an Oscar for Singer’s The Usual Suspects. Should Singer experience a similar career downfall, repeated viewings of that acclaimed film will be even more awkward to watch today.
A replacement director for Singer is expected to be named within the next few days. As of now, Bohemian Rhapsody is still set for a Dec. 25, 2018 release.