In April 2011, May confirmed that pre-production work was continuing. He said the band had approved a team to start filming later in 2011, and Baron Cohen's eagerness had been the key to progress. However, in July 2013, Baron Cohen dropped out of the role due to creative differences with the members of Queen. May said they had parted on good terms and said that the band had felt Cohen's presence would have been distracting.
In December 2013, it was announced that Ben Whishaw, best known for playing Q in the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, had been chosen to replace Cohen as Mercury. British actor and director Dexter Fletcher was announced as director, but withdrew from the project in March 2014. Production had been due to begin in the summer of 2014; any delays would cause further problems, with Whishaw committed to begin work on the next James Bond film towards the end of the year.
In late 2015, producers GK Films hired Anthony McCarten to write a new screenplay In March 2016, during an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Cohen elaborated on his departure and the creative disagreements with May and Taylor – specifically on whether the film's plotline should have continued past Mercury's 1991 death, and his choice of crew, which included Morgan, David Fincher, and Tom Hooper. On 4 November 2016, it was announced that the film was now backed by 20th Century Fox, New Regency, and GK Films, with shooting set to have begun in early 2017. Mercury will be played by Rami Malek, while Bryan Singer is set to direct In August 2017, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joseph Mazzello were cast as May, Taylor, and Deacon. On 31 August 2017, Allen Leechwas cast as Paul Prenter In September 2017, the first image of Malek as Mercury was released, as well as further information by Singer regarding the film's timeline of 1970 to the Live Aid performance in 1985, stating that the film is "not a traditional biopic" and will be a story honoring the music, but that Mercury's dark and troubled history will also be honored. On 6 September 2017, Lucy Boynton was cast as Mary Austin. On 5 December 2017, Singer was fired by 20th Century Fox due to "unreliable behaviour" on set, and was replaced with Dexter Fletcher. Singer stated he was disappointed not to be able to finish the film, "a passion project of mine".