The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has removed Bryan Singer’s name from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” nomination for outstanding British film because of “recent very serious allegations” of sexual misconduct against the director. The film itself will retain the nomination, as well as six others in craft and acting categories.
“BAFTA considers the alleged behaviour completely unacceptable and incompatible with its values,” the academy wrote in a statement Wednesday, days before its award ceremony. “This has led to Mr Singer’s suspended nomination. BAFTA notes Mr Singer’s denial of the allegations. The suspension of his nomination will therefore remain in place until the outcome of the allegations has been resolved.”
BAFTA’s decision comes almost two weeks after GLAAD deemed the Queen biopic ineligible for its outstanding film category in response to the allegations against Singer that were published last month by the Atlantic. The roughly 9,000-word article detailed graphic accounts of four people who said Singer sexually assaulted them when they were underage. Singer denied the allegations and responded at the time with a statement that called the article a “homophobic smear piece,” an assertion GLAAD called out in announcing the film’s ineligibility.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” earned five Oscar nominations last month, including best picture. Unlike BAFTA, however, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards best picture only to the film’s producers — in this case, Graham King. Both King and screenwriter Anthony McCarten’s names remain on the BAFTA nomination. Neither one, nor Singer, has responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment on the director’s suspension.
The film’s rocky awards season follows a chaotic production process that began in 2010. Queen guitarist Brian May announced the movie that year, when the plan was for shooting to kick off in 2012 with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as frontman Freddie Mercury. Cohen left the project in 2013 over creative differences, and British actor Ben Whishaw stepped in to replace him. That deal also fell apart. In 2016, Rami Malek was confirmed for the lead role, with Singer attached to direct.
Twentieth Century Fox wound up firing Singer a few weeks before the end of “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” production because of his unreliable behavior. The Hollywood Reporter pointed to his prolonged absences from set and tension with Malek as the reason, though Singer denied the latter and said he was caring for an ill family member. While Singer retained the credit, Dexter Fletcher, whose name had been attached to the project back when Whishaw’s was, took over the remaining directing duties.
Malek has picked up quite a few trophies for his performance in the film, including a Golden Globe. But he has also been criticized for staying relatively quiet about the allegations against Singer. After receiving a best-actor Oscar nomination, he told the Los Angeles Times that he “was not aware of” Singer’s history of sexual misconduct allegations before signing on to the project. As pressure to comment on the allegations grew, Malek spoke more candidly last week during a panel at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
"My heart goes out to anyone who has to live through anything like what I’ve heard and what is out there,” Malek said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s awful. It’s remarkable that this happens. I can appreciate so much what they’ve been through and how difficult this must be for them. In the light of the #MeToo era that this somehow seems to exist after that. It’s a horrible thing.”
He continued: “In my situation with Bryan, it was not pleasant, not at all. And that’s about what I can say about it at this point. For anyone who is seeking any solace in all of this, Bryan Singer was fired. Bryan Singer was fired. I don’t think that was something anyone saw coming, but I think that had to happen, and it did."
Malek received a BAFTA nomination for his performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was also honored in the makeup and hair, cinematography, editing, sound and costume design categories. The awards ceremony will be held Sunday night at the Royal Albert Hall in London.