LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Bryan Singer has accused Fox of refusing to give him time off to deal with health issues of one of his parents, which is why he says he was fired from Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The director made the statement Monday evening through his attorney Andrew B. Brettler, several hours after Fox announced that he'd been terminated.
"'Bohemian Rhapsody' is a passion project of mine," Singer said. "With fewer than three weeks to shoot remaining, I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services. This was not my decision and it was beyond my control."
Singer also said that rumors that his departure was sparked by a dispute with Rami Malek, who portrays Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the film, were untrue.
"While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving," Singer said. "I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first."
Fox had no comment on the statement. The studio had issued a terse statement Monday afternoon, saying, "Bryan Singer is no longer the director of 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'"
The studio terminated Singer under the "pay or play" provision of his contract, sources indicated, due to his repeated failures to show up on the set. A new director has not been named.
Filming has been taking place in London. New Regency and GK Films are the production companies. The producers are Graham King, Singer, and Jim Beach, Queen's longtime manager. Denis O'Sullivan, Arnon Milchan, and Jane Rosenthal are the executive producers.
Sources said Monday that as a result of Singer's absences, the cinematographer Thomas Newton Sigel had to step in to direct on some of the days while Singer was missing. Sources said Malek had complained about what he perceived as Singer's lack of professionalism.
Fox had given a similarly terse statement on Dec. 1 when it announced, "Twentieth Century Fox Film has temporarily halted production on Bohemian Rhapsody due to the unexpected unavailability of Bryan Singer."
At that point, a representative for the director said that the halt was due to "a personal health matter concerning Bryan and his family. Bryan hopes to get back to work on the film soon after the holidays."
A source also said that Tom Hollander, who plays Jim Beach, departed the film due to Singer's behavior, but was persuaded to return. Another source said that about two weeks of shooting remain to complete the movie, which may result in the studio turning to a member of the current crew such as Sigel to complete the film rather than bringing in a new director from the outside.
Singer, who is 52, has directed films including "The Usual Suspects," four X-Men movies including last year's "X-Men: Apocalypse," "Jack the Giant Slayer," and "Superman Returns."