When news broke Monday that director Bryan Singer had been fired from the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, rumors swirled about the sudden departure of the director, who has faced a fair share of negative headlines over the years.
Just a few days prior, it was reported that Fox had halted production on the film with just two weeks of principal photography remaining, after Singer failed to show up for work. Singer’s representative blamed “a personal health matter” for the director’s sudden disappearance.
But according to The Hollywood Reporter, Singer’s attendance issues were only one part of the problem. Tensions were reportedly running high between Singer and his cast, which led to on-set disputes with the film’s star, Rami Malek. In one such dispute, Singer allegedly threw an object after the actor complained to the studio about Singer’s unprofessionalism. Things are said to have gotten so toxic that Tom Hollander—who plays Queen’s manager in the film—quit altogether before he was persuaded to come back.
Hours after THR ran its story, Singer released a statement in which he blamed his absence on “health matters” concerning one of his parents. He accused Fox of being “unwilling to accommodate” him, and disputed the rumors of turmoil between himself and Malek. “While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving,“ Singer wrote. Singer’s offices on the Fox lot have since been shuttered, signaling the studio’s desire to cut ties with the embattled director. (His overall deal with Fox had recently expired, but Singer was expected to keep an office on the lot until production wrapped on Bohemian.)
Despite his success as a Hollywood director, Singer has long had a reputation for erratic behavior on set. THR noted that the Usual Suspects helmer has a history of disappearing in the middle of his productions, having pulled similar stunts while shooting Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse. Singer’s conflicts with actors have also been well-documented. As The Daily Beast points out, he famously clashed with Halle Berry while working on X2. At the time, Singer admitted that Berry stormed off the set, although he said that the two eventually repaired their relationship. In fact, according to THR, Singer’s reputation was so poisoned that before filming on Bohemian Rhapsody began, Fox executives warned the director that they wouldn’t tolerate his usual antics.
Looming over these latest developments is the history of sexual assault allegations against Singer. In 2014, he was forced to bow out of the press tour for his Fox film X Men: Days of Future Past, after actor Michael Egan III filed a civil suit accusing the director of drugging the then-17-year-old actor at various parties and forcing him to have sex. Egan eventually dropped his suit after a “series of legal setbacks”.
This followed a lawsuit filed during production by several underage extras from Singer’s 1998 film Apt Pupil, who claimed they were forced to shower in the nude on set. The lawsuit was determined to be without merit.
More recently, stories emerged alleging Singer’s “obsession with teenage boys” that culminated in drug-fueled pool parties and illicit casting sessions. In early November, a group of USC students launched a petition to have Singer’s name removed from the School of Cinematic Arts because of the many accusations made against him.
Singer’s name has often popped up on social media after the Harvey Weinstein story broke, including a tweet from Jessica Chastain reminding the public not to “forget” about Singer. And while it may just be a coincidence that Fox has severed ties with him amid the recent flurry of Hollywood figures losing work due to previous sexual misconduct, the timing is definitely interesting.