NEW YORK • Following an unexplained absence, director Bryan Singer has been fired from the troubled Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, according to multiple sources.
The 20th Century Fox film about the British rock band has plodded through directors and stars over the last decade.
Singer had been shooting the biopic with actor Rami Malek as the band's lead singer, Freddie Mercury, in London, but he failed to return to the set after Thanksgiving.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a conflict existed between Singer and Malek. A representative for Singer attributed his absence to a "personal health matter".
The film has temporarily suspended production and is back in limbo as it searches for a new director. The movie was slated for release on Christmas next year.
A representative for Singer's talent agency, the William Morris Agency, declined to comment. Simon Halls, the director's former publicist, said he stopped representing him a couple months ago, but declined to elaborate.
Singer, 52, has been one of Hollywood's more reliable moneymakers, with his past two X-Men movies each grossing at least US$500 million worldwide. But a raft of allegations of sexual misconduct has long followed him, including several lawsuits by teenage boys accusing him of misconduct in work environments.
None of the entertainment trade publications was able to parse the disappearance, though some pundits could not help but speculate about it in the context of the allegations of sexual abuse.
Those allegations have resurfaced in the wake of Hollywood's harassment scandals and were fuelled when actress Jessica Chastain tweeted last month "let us never forget" in reference to an article about Singer.
The representative for Graham King, the producer-financer for whom Bohemian Rhapsody has long been a passion project, did not respond to a request for comment. The film centres on the band's early years, culminating in their seminal Live Aid performance in 1985.
It was in development as far back as 2010. Numerous actors, including Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw, were attached to play Mercury, and the number of writers and directors involved with it is nearly as long as Queen's list of top 40 hits.
NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST