The editor of Bohemian Rhapsody has finally shed some light on how much of the Queen biopic was directed by Dexter Fletcher, who replaced Bryan Singer late into production.
Talking to Deadline, the film’s Oscar-nominated editor John Ottman says Fletcher’s key contributions to the film were the scenes that saw the British rock band in recording studios working on ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and ‘We Will Rock You’, a moment that featured heavily in the film’s marketing.
“[Dexter Fletcher] was there for a short time because obviously he wanted to come in and go over the scenes that he’d shot, and you know, it was the first time I had ever worked with another director as an editor,” Ottman explains. “He would come in, and he just obviously wanted to see what I had done with his scenes.
“He also shot a couple of sequences in the recording studios — not the early ones, but the ones sitting together, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and ‘We Will Rock You,’ — just when they’re kind of talking about putting the songs together, and then he just wanted to get a general overview of how his scenes were being integrated in the film. And he had his notes on the flow of the film and then he went off to do Rocketman.”
There’s been a lot of cloak and dagger intrigue over how much of the hit film was shot by the replacement director, who was brought on to complete the production after original director Bryan Singer was fired by 20th Century Fox in December 2017.
Singer’s departure, blamed by the studio on his “unexpected unavailability”, came with just two weeks of principal photography left to complete. Singer retained his director’s credit (the Director’s Guild of America stipulates that each film may have only one named director) with producer Graham King explaining at the time: “Bryan had some personal issues going on. He wanted to hiatus the movie to deal with them, and the movie had to get finished. That was what it came down to… It wasn’t about reinventing the wheel. We needed someone who would have some creative freedom, but work inside a box.”
This chimes with what Fletcher previously said about his work on Bohemian Rhapsody.
“I came into the last few weeks of principal photography and editing and the bits and pieces like that,” Fletcher told Indiewire in May 2018. “So I was lucky to have a really good input to something, but it’s really about watching what had been already created and being part of that. It wasn’t like changing and reinventing the wheel.”
Joe Mazzello, who plays Queen bassist John Deacon in the film, hinted during the promotional tour for the film that Fletcher’s contributions appeared early in the story, although we’ve never had clarification on which scenes.
“A lot of the scenes [Dexter Fletcher] did were some of the playful fun scenes near the beginning of the film and so it was really good,” Mazzello told CinemaBlend, adding: “Everyone played to their strengths.”
Talking about his working relationship with Bryan Singer, Ottman was unable to address the allegations of sexual impropriety levelled at the director, but said that years of working together on nearly every one of Singer’s films had given them an invaluable connection during production.
“I guess when you start making films together, your sensibility and your taste kind of rubbed off on one another,” Ottman said. “So I think where one leaves off, one begins, and then you begin to have a shorthand, and then the shorthand becomes shorter and shorter, so it allows directors to depend more on the person who’s in the editing room, and they get to enjoy their life a little more. You get to a point where he just trusted that I would take care of things.”
Bohemian Rhapsody is nominated for five Academy Awards. The Oscars will take place this Sunday, 24 February.