“In all the movies I’ve done, I’ve never quite seen this confluence of people’s belief in the project they’re working on,” says “Bohemian Rhapsody” cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel. The film has generated a lot of press for its behind-the-scenes drama (director Bryan Singer was fired before shooting was completed), so the veteran cameraman admits he was “concerned that all this unbelievable effort and love that people were putting into it would be for naught.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Sigel above.
Sigel’s fears were finally put to rest when this biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) opened so well at the box office. As of this writing it has grossed $750 million worldwide. “To see the movie received by the public so phenomenally,” combined with its recent Golden Globe victories for Best Film Drama and Best Film Drama Actor (Malek), has been “terrific.”
But Sigel confesses he actually “wasn’t a super Queen fan” prior to getting the script for the film. “Like a lot of Americans, I kind of knew the music without being a real aficionado of the band the way that I think people were more in Europe.” That changed when he signed onto the project.
From the very beginning Sigel wanted to avoid shooting another tragic music drama like ‘The Rose” (1979) or “The Doors” (1991). “The film didn’t want to be this meteoric rise to stardom and then descent into the hell of drugs and addiction, ending in a tragic death before the artist’s time,” he explains. Instead, he wanted to pay “homage to the band, but particularly to Freddie Mercury — what he represented, what he went through, what he meant — and celebrate the music along the way.”
Sigel just received his career-first BAFTA nomination for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of seven bids the film received including Best British Film and Best Actor for Malek. He previously contended at the Critics’ Choice Awards for “Drive” (2011) and the Independent Spirits for “The Usual Suspects” (1995).
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