Filmmaker Bryan Singer will no longer helm the years-in-the-works Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Twentieth Century Fox confirmed that it had fired the director after he became unreliable, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Three days ago, the studio reported it had "temporarily halted" production on the film due to Singer's "unexpected unavailability." A rep for the director told the BBC that the absence was due to "a personal health matter concerning Bryan and his family" and that Singer hoped to return to the picture after the holidays. Now the studio is reporting that Singer's truancy is one of the reasons for his termination.
Tensions have grown on set between the director and star Rami Malek, who is playing Freddie Mercury, over Singer's absence. Malek complained to the studio, according to THR, claiming that the director was not showing up and that he was both unreliable and unprofessional.
Reps for Fox and Singer did not reply to Rolling Stone's request for comment in time for publication, though the studio did confirm that Singer was "no longer the director of Bohemian Rhapsody."
The filmmaker has been a no-show several times, exasperating the star as well as actor Tom Hollander, who plays Queen's manager and exited the film temporarily at one point. Cinematographer Thomas Newton Sigel has had to fill in for the director on several days when Singer went missing, according to THR.
Malek and Singer had at least one heated argument on set, where Singer reportedly threw an object. The two eventually decided to move forward, but after Singer did not return to the set after Thanksgiving – he's reportedly told people he's been suffering P.T.S.D. because of on-set friction – Sigel directed several scenes and production was stopped. THR says this led the studio to cancel his contract.
Fox executives had previously told Singer he needed to be professional during the filming and that a Directors Guild represented was subsequently on set monitoring his behaviour.
A replacement is expected to be announced soon.
Earlier this year, Singer spoke with Rolling Stone about the film and expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to direct it. "I identify with [Freddie Mercury] on one level – the issues of sexuality, issues of ethnicity, [since] I was a Jewish kid growing up in a Catholic neighbourhood ... he felt kind of like an outsider," Singer said. "But the man just punched through it all. He survived in front of the audience, and I do my thing, with the same bravado, behind the camera. When you're a director, that's part of your job, you have to command a gigantic audience, but I do it from behind a chair or monitors. But of all these strange connective feelings about him, the thing that touched me about him was the music. That's why I've been wanting to do this for over a decade and a half."
Additional reporting by David Fear.