Bohemian Rhapsody filming locations

Movie Music
Bohemian Rhapsody, from debut to Live Aid concert

After the abortive attempts of Sacha Baron Cohen and Dexter Fletcher, Brian Singer was entrusted with the production of a biopic on Freddie Mercury and Queen in 2017. This portrait plays on truths but also on approximations and sometimes inaccurate facts. The feature film covers a great period from 1970 and the band’s beginnings to the fabulous Live Aid concert in London in 1985.

A box-office success, it attracts more than 4.3 million spectators in French theatres and collects more than 903 million dollars worldwide. He won multiple awards, notably for his critically acclaimed performance as Freddie Mercury in the role of Remi Maleck. His awards include an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Actor.

The New York director begins shooting his feature film on September 8, 2017 in London. The British capital hosts almost all the footage.

The Live Aid concert

Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead HP3 0NZ, United Kingdom

On 13 July 1985, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organised a big charity concert to help the Ethiopian population hit by famine. Two rallies are held jointly at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia and Wembley Stadium in London. During the show, many artists perform, including Queen, U2, Dire Straits, Paul McCartney, Elton John, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton or Bob Dylan.

It is in the legendary English sports arena that Queen performs six songs: Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, Hammer to Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You and We are the Champions.

In the feature film, Freddie Mercury (Remi Malek) insists on attending the concert. The other members of the group Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and John Deacon (Joe Mazzello) are initially reluctant. It should be noted that the singer had fallen out with them the year before and had started a solo career.

Wembley couldn’t host the filming of the movie. The new stadium, built on top of the old building, was also not big enough for this. The production therefore chose the Bovindgon air base, south-west of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. In particular, it was used by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A part of the mythical stadium was therefore recreated in this enclosure closed since 1972. The giant scaffolding towers, posters and large-scale banners, about three stories high, were added in post-production. The location also hosted the filming of Rogue One, World War Z and Fast and Furious 6.

For this final sequence of the feature film, Remi Malek has practiced a great deal in reproducing the gestures of Freddie Mercury.

The first concerts

Hornsey Town Hall The Broadway, London N8 9JJ, United Kingdom

We discover the group during its first concerts under the name of Queen, in this modernist building of 1935. This one’s not really a concert hall. His Art Deco-style interiors were also used for other sequences in the feature film. For example, the building housed the offices of EMI, a music production company. Members of the band often come to visit their executive manager Ray Foster. The role is played by an unrecognizable Mike Meyers. In addition, this jewel of the 1930s housed the scene in the Biba store. Freddie is chasing Mary (Lucy Boynton). In the women’s department, the singer then chooses clothes.

Remi Maleck does not perform the songs in the film himself. Either he uses playbacks of the real singer, or he is dubbed by Marc Martel, a member of the band Downhere and recognized as a vocal double of the leader of Queen.

The house of the Bulsara family

Gillette Building Studios, 101 Syon Ln, Brentford, Isleworth TW7 5LW, United Kingdom

Farrokh Bulsara, known as Freddie Mercury, was born in Zanzibar into a Parsi family, descendants of Zoroastrians driven out of Persia. The future singer was 17 years old when he arrived in London to escape the bloody revolution in his homeland.

The interior of the family home was shot in this listed Art Deco building. The Gillette Building was converted into a film studio a few years ago. Other Bohemian Rhapsody sequences were filmed in this former industrial building. The London radio studio where Kenny Everett (Dickie Beau) is the very first DJ to broadcast the entire six-minute track that gave its title to the feature film, but also the set of the famous Top of the Pops show, and Freddie’s hotel room in Rio have been recreated here.

As for the front of the Bulsara’s Fulham house, it was filmed at 52 Malyons Road, Ladywell, Lewisham, south of London.

Student concerts

30 Tweedy Rd, Bromley BR1, United Kingdom

Freddie is taking classes at Ealing Art College in West London. With the group, they give their first concerts in this institute, which trains people for careers in fashion, graphic design, industrial design, photography and fine arts.

For this footage, Bryan Singer chose Bromley’s old town hall. Located in the south-east of London, this unused building is being redeveloped into a hotel. In addition, the scene in the clinic was also shot here. Freddie Mercury there learns that he has AIDS. The sequence in which he gives the sad news to Brian, Roger and John during their rehearsals before Live Aid, was shot at NW3, a church transformed into a studio.

For the role of Queen’s leader, dentures were created for Remi Malek, because Freddie Mercury’s jaws were larger than the actor’s. The Oscar winner kept them as a souvenir of the filming.

Madison Square Garden

Studios LH2, Concord Rd, London W3 0SE, United Kingdom

At Madison Square Garden, Queen gives a mythical concert. During the performance, Brian May asks the entire audience to stamp their feet to set the tempo for the cult song We Will Rock You.

The famous New York cultural venue has been recreated in studios at LH2 in West London. The main room measures 1,386 m2 and is 18 m high. In 2017, it hosted the filming of The Voice and X-Factor, the British music programmes.

Brian May’s guitar in the film is an exact replica of the Red Special, an instrument that the musician and his father built in the 1960s.

Riverside Pub

Rutland Arms, 15 Lower Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9DJ, United Kingdom

Freddie, Brian, John and Roger meet their future first manager, John Reid (Aidan Gillen) on the waterfront terrace of this pub. The man was in charge of the group from 1975 to 1978.

For the purposes of the film, this scene was filmed in another London bar, the Rultand Arms, in the west of the British capital. It is located a stone’s throw from the high towers of the Hammersmith Bridge.

In addition to dentures, Remi Malek wore a wig in all the scenes of the film. The production also called upon Mark Coulier, the make-up artist from the Harry Potter saga, and Jan Sewell, the make-up artist on the film Tomb Raider, to make Freddie Mercury’s facial prostheses, particularly his nose.

Freddie throws his limo manager out of the limo.

Union Street, London SE1, United Kingdom

In New York, the manipulator Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) encourages Freddie to sack John Reid, the band’s manager. The singer then threw him out of the limo.

With a length of 600 m, it is in 1781 that this London street began to be developed. During the shooting, Remi Malek complained about Bryan Singer’s absences, lack of professionalism and seriousness. If the two men managed to put their egos aside, “health problems” would have once again kept the filmmaker away from the sets. He was then dismissed on December 5, 2017, two weeks before the end of shooting, and replaced by Dexter Fletcher. A bit like Paul’s dismissal of John in the feature film: no mercy!

The record shop in Amsterdam

Redcross Way, 76 Redcross Way, London SE1 1HA, United Kingdom

The shop of this Southwark shoemaker was chosen by the production for the stage taking place in a record shop in Amsterdam.

Brian May and Roger Taylor make a brief feature film appearance in a cameo at Wembley Live Aid.

With 15 studio albums and several live albums, Queen is still considered a great band today. According to the Guinness Book, his records spent 1422 weeks in the British charts, a total of 27 years! Volume 1 of Greatest Hits sold 6 million copies in Great Britain, the record for an album in the UK and Ireland. As for the worldwide figures, they are unreliable, since they vary from 100 to 350 million copies sold for all the albums.

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By Anthony Thibault

Sunday, June 21, 2020

From the "Casimir generation", Anthony has kept (in addition to a passion for Goldorak) a taste for inventive images, experimentation and curiosity. Passionate about travel and pop culture, he co-founded Fantrippers with Nicolas Albert to share his passion with as many people as possible.

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