HE WILL HE WILL ROCK YOU! – Ben Hardy tells us what’s it like to play a legendary musician in the upcoming box office hit “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Drums can be quite tricky to portray in movies. With other instruments, the movie can “cheat” a bit, mainly through clever camera angles. But it’s all too easy for viewers to notice when the drummer—or rather, the actor playing the drummer—is off by even a single beat. So, the pressure was definitely on for English actor Ben Hardy, who was selected to play Roger Taylor, drummer for legendary rock band Queen, in the long awaited biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which covers the rise of the band up to the famous Live Aid concert of 1985.
Of course, Hardy is no stranger to challenging roles or undergoing special training in preparation for a role. Back in 2015, for instance, when he was cast as the winged mutant Angel in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” he took up indoor skydiving to get a better appreciation of how the human body would look like in flight.
Other than that, Hardy can also count being a series regular of “EastEnders” and joining the all-star cast of “Only the Brave” among his accomplishments. That being said, it’s probably safe to assume that his appearance in “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be the one to rock audiences all around the world for years to come.
DAMAN: Hi, Ben. Awesome to have you with us. How are you?
Ben Hardy: I’m good, thanks. Happy to be here.
DA: So, obviously, we’re looking forward to see you in “Bohemian Rhapsody” this November. Personally, what do you see as the best part of the movie?
BH: The best part? That’s a tricky one. Push comes to shove, I’d say the Live Aid performance in 1985 may be one of the strongest parts of the movie.
DA: By the way, can you also tell us how you were initially cast as Roger Taylor?
BH: Yeah, sure. I actually really chased this one. I’d worked with director Bryan Singer before on “X-Men: Apocalypse” and when I heard he was going to be directing “Bohemian Rhapsody” I reached out to him to see if he’d consider me for Roger Taylor. He was open to the idea but had reservations based on the fact he wanted the actor playing Rog to be able to play the drums. I wanted the part so bad I told him I could play. He asked me to put a song in video so he could see. I panicked, went away and bought the cheapest drum kit I could find and a local instructor to help me learn the song. Sent the video to Bryan. And a couple of auditions later and yeah, here we are.
DA: We’ve also heard that you had to take an intense crash course in drumming to secure the role. How did you manage to pull it off?
BH: Obviously, I could never be as skilled a drummer as Roger Taylor in the limited timeframe we had, and most likely could never be as good as him! But I wanted to do my best to pay tribute to the man’s talent. So, basically I just spent all day, every day locked away with my drum kit practicing over and over. I also had a great instructor in Brett Morgan. There’s no way I could have learnt to play so quickly without his help.
DA: On that note, what else did you have to do, train in or learn in a hurry in order to portray Queen’s legendary drummer?
BH: Ah, man, I just spent days on YouTube watching videos of him to learn as many of the characteristics, mannerisms, vocal qualities and idiosyncrasies I could find. I didn’t want to be doing an impression of Rog in this film but I wanted to give as much of an essence of him as I could.
DA: And we also have to ask: What was it like playing as Roger Taylor while the man was also on board as producer?
BH: Initially, I was sh-t scared to meet Roger and for him to be on set and see my portrayal of him. But he was so supportive from the outset that it was really great to have him around. And learn as much as I could from him on all things Roger.
DA: What was the biggest challenge you faced while working on “Bohemian Rhapsody”?
BH: Biggest challenge would probably be learning the 13/14 songs on the drums.
DA: It would be a massive understatement that Queen has a strong history and an equally strong fan base. Do you feel that this adds extra pressure on you—as well as the entire cast and crew—to really get things right for “Bohemian Rhapsody”?
BH: Their fan base is huge. And yeah, sure, that does apply some pressure. And obviously we want the fans to love this movie. But you will never please everyone so all we can do is present our interpretation and do the best we can to pay tribute and do justice to Queen.
DA: On the flip side, in what ways would you say can “Bohemian Rhapsody” appeal to moviegoers in general? Especially those who might not be all that familiar with Queen yet…
BH: You don’t need to be a Queen fan to like the movie. Though I’m struggling to think of someone who isn’t a fan of at least one Queen song! The journey of the young Parsee boy Farouk Bulsara creating the persona of Freddie Mercury and becoming one of the greatest rock and roll stars of all times is such an incredible story. Also it’s a really fun movie.
DA: All in all, though, what does “Bohemian Rhapsody” mean to you? Personally and also career-wise, that is.
BH: Personally, it’s a proud moment. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play one of the greatest rock and roll stars of all time.
DA: And still on a personal note, were you a Queen fan before you were involved in “Bohemian Rhapsody”? And either way, has it changed your appreciation for or view of the band in any way? Changed your personal favorite song, perhaps…
BH: Queen has always been top five or 10 for me. But after spending months listening to their albums on repeat they are definitely one of my favorite bands. Aside from the widely known anthemic hits they have so many amazing album tracks that I’d never heard before. “White Queen (As it Began)” might be my personal favorite.
DA: Beyond “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you’ve also been drafted into the cast of “Six Underground.” Can you tell us how this came about?
BH: I’ve been a fan of Michael Bay’s movies since I was in my teens, “Bad Boys” and “The Rock” in particular. I got the audition through and after a couple more rounds of auditions I got the happy phone call.
DA: “Six Underground” is directed by Michael Bay, has Ryan Reynolds in the lead and is described as “Deadpool” meets “Mission: Impossible,” possibly with lots of extra explosions thrown in. How would you personally describe the movie?
BH: I haven’t started filming yet so hard to speak for what the movie will be yet. But the script is dark, funny and filled with awesome action sequences.
DA: It’s still very early in production, but what are you most excited about “Six Underground”? What can fans expect from this movie?
BH: I’m playing a parkour expert, so I’m excited about learning some parkour.
DA: Of course, you’re no stranger to the genre, having made your big screen debut as Angel in 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Today, what do you remember the most about being part of the “X-Men” universe?
BH: I remember struggling to go to the bathroom in my super suit and having a hell of a lot of fun with those guys.
DA: Is the superhero genre something you might want to revisit some day? Or, to put in a more poetic way: Will we ever see you put on spandex and—maybe—a cape once again?
BH: [Laughs] Who knows? I do love spandex.
DA: You started your career in theater, moved on to TV and now star in Hollywood blockbusters. This might sound a bit clichéd, but what would you say is the key to your success so far?
BH: Putting in the work. You need a bit of luck in this game but you’ve got be ready when your opportunity arises.
DA: Moving forward, what do you see as the biggest challenge you’ll face as an actor?
BH: Who knows? I like to keep it challenging.
DA: Conversely, what drives you? What motivates you the most?
BH: A good script. When I read a great script I just want to be part of it. Part of something special.
DA: And finally, another obvious cliché, but where do you see yourself in, say, five years or so from now? What are your long term plans?
BH: I prefer to take each day as it comes. If you can’t be happy with your current situation you probably won’t be happy even if your Five Year Plan works out.
Styling Ty Headlee
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