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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It sounds like working with Bryan Singer has been a mess since long before Bohemian Rhapsody

Image for article titled It sounds like working with Bryan Singer has been a mess since long before Bohemian Rhapsody
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Way back in December, the production of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody had to shut down, supposedly so director Bryan Singer could deal with a “personal health issue.” However, it turned out that Twentieth Century Fox had actually fired Singer for repeatedly not showing up to set, reportedly leading to complaints from star Rami Malek and co-star Tom Hollander. At the time he was fired, Singer had apparently returned to America (the movie was filming in London) and claimed to be suffering form “post-traumatic stress disorder” over the tensions on the Bohemian Rhapsody set. Shortly after that, Singer released a statement claiming that one of his parents had fallen ill and that Fox refused to give him time off to be with his family, which “took a serious toll” on his own health.


It was a mess, no matter who you believe, and a new Hollywood Reporter piece indicates that some people in the film industry wonder why Fox hired Singer in the first place when he already has a reputation for troubled productions. Apparently, the production of X-Men: Apocalypse was also tough, with one “insider” saying that Singer was “emotionally very frail” during filming and would often show up to the set late and unprepared. He also would regularly fly people down to wherever they were filming and put them up in hotels, causing distractions from the regular production, and if anybody pointed out the problems with Singer’s behavior he “sometimes cried.” THR’s insider says they were “shocked” when Fox moved forward with Bohemian Rhapsody after Apocalypse, saying, “How many at-bats do you get?”

Singer’s enthusiasm for Freddie Mercury convinced Fox to make the movie, but studio chairperson Stacey Snider was concerned enough about Singer that she reportedly had a meeting with him that involved her specifically telling him not to “break the law” and to “show up to work every day” or else there’d be consequences. (The fact that she had to tell Singer not to break the law seems like a particularly big problem.) Despite that, Singer would still show up to the shoot late and exhausted, which indeed led to tensions on set. One story about Singer throwing something at Rami Malek is apparently half-true, with sources saying Singer did throw something, but it wasn’t at anyone specific.

It was near last Thanksgiving that Singer asked to take time off, with Snider saying that he claimed he was exhausted and “something got thrown in that his mom was not well.” She told him they couldn’t delay production for several weeks like he had asked, but he flew back to America anyway. One source also notes that Singer’s mother lives in New Jersey, but he was apparently seen in Los Angeles “just days” after he was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is now doing fine, but an executive who worked on it in some capacity says the headache of working with Singer was not worth it. “There are artists we work with who are complex and raw in their behavior,” the executive told THR, “Do we tolerate any of that kind of behavior going forward?”

As all of this was going on, Singer has faced multiple allegations of sexual assault, with him preemptively denying a report that Esquire was working on earlier this month—though whatever allegations Esquire was reporting on haven’t been released. Also, because a white male director is extremely rare and valuable in Hollywood (no matter what they’ve been accused of doing or how they’ve behaved on previous sets), Singer is now set to get $10 million to direct a “female-empowered” Red Sonja movie.