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Small Details You Missed In Bohemian Rhapsody

Freddie Mercury once said, of Queen, "The reason we're successful, darling? My overall charisma, of course" (via Goodreads). And it's Mercury's charisma that carries the 2018 biopic about the industry-changing Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody." The film, though centered around the band as a whole, focuses quite a bit on Mercury's life and how he joined Queen, brought them to the top, and struggled with success. It's full of passion, heart, drama, and memorable melodies — all traits that describe Queen's discography.

What makes this film special is the way it pays tribute to Mercury's life. Both Roger Taylor and Brian May, original and continued Queen band members, were involved in the creation of the film to provide insight into how the band's journey progressed. Because Mercury passed away in 1991, Taylor, May, and the rest of the creative team made a beautiful tribute to not only their hard work in the industry and love for one another, but for their dear friend.

In any film that depicts real people's lives, there are bound to be hidden details that only the most intense fans will notice. Sometimes there are nods to the person's interests or hobbies, other times there are authentic costumes or set pieces that add to the realistic storytelling. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is no exception, and the film is filled with hidden details that are only meant for those who meticulously rewatch, or are intense fans of the band. Read on to see the 12 hidden details that make "Bohemian Rhapsody" a more immersive biopic.

Drinks on Freddie's Live Aid piano

There is a lot of build-up in the film to the Live Aid performance. Queen's Live Aid performance is still talked about and regarded as one of the greatest live rock performances to date. As such, the production needed to be as authentic and close to the original as possible. That's why there are little details, like Rami Malek's movements or blowing a kiss to his mother, that emulates the real performance. However, there's one small detail that also makes it in, and that's the drinks Mercury had during the performance. 

On Mercury's piano, there are a few cups of Pepsi and a clear cup half full of beer. Though most would chalk that up to product placement and an excellent advertisement for Pepsi, it's actually a call back to the original performance (via YouTube). Mercury kept several Pepsi cups, presumably with water, on his piano, and had a half-drunk beer in a plastic cup in the middle. Though it's a small detail, it's one that die-hard fans of Queen and Freddie Mercury can appreciate.

Mike Myers' feelings on Bohemian Rhapsody

One cameo that fans noticed comes from Austin Powers himself, Mike Myers. The actor plays EMI recording executive Ray Foster, who works with Queen on distributing their record. Under Foster, the band records "Bohemian Rhapsody," and takes it to Foster with the intention of it being the lead single for the album. Foster, however, doesn't like the song at all. He finds it too long and confusing, and refuses to make it the lead single. As a result, Queen quits EMI and "Bohemian Rhapsody" becomes a huge success. 

The irony here is, Myers once played a character that also had very strong feelings toward "Bohemian Rhapsody," just on the other side of the coin. In "Wayne's World," where Myers plays Wayne, there's a memorable scene of Wayne, Garth (Dana Carvey), and their friends blasting "Bohemian Rhapsody" through their car speakers and singing along. For fans of Myers and "Wayne's World," it's a hilarious small detail (via YouTube). 

Reconstruction of Live Aid stage

There are many memorable and authentic details about the Live Aid performance, as it is a pivotal moment in both real life and in the film, which starts and ends with the Live Aid show. But that scene isn't about just perfecting their costumes, movements, and Pepsi cups on the piano during their 20-minute set. The production actually completely reconstructed the Live Aid stage to look exactly like the original.

The original stage for the 1985 show was in Wembley Stadium outside of London. Director of Photography Newton Thomas Siegel told Variety that Wembley had been remodeled since the original Live Aid concert, so it required some ingenuity from the set designers to figure out where they would film. They ended up shooting the scenes also outside of London at a place called Bovingdon Airfield, where they built an exact replica of the Live Aid stage, "down to the scaffolding towers and all the banners and signs and musical equipment," Siegel said. He also commented that the point of Live Aid was to raise money and not have flashy equipment, so it made it easier to reconstruct and allowed them to focus more on recreating the performance.

Authentic choreography

For Rami Malek to be so precise with his portrayal of Mercury is not only imperative, but also incredibly satisfying to fans who see Malek's hard work for the character. However, Malek didn't take on the task alone. Sure, he did extensive research on Mercury and worked with the production staff to perfect it, but Malek also had a secret weapon: Polly Bennett.

Bennett, a world-renowned British choreographer, worked with Malek to perfect all of Mercury's performance choreography. Those who are original Queen fans will notice all the nearly perfect recreated moments within the performances, but hardcore fans will also notice that Malek takes on Mercury's mannerisms in the scenes where he isn't performing. Bennett also had a hand in training Malek with Mercury's mannerisms, in addition to her work on his performance choreography. But Malek and Bennett didn't just turn to Mercury's footage; instead, they also looked at artists like David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix to further encourage getting into the headspace of Mercury (via People).

Shanghai Express or Queen II?

In the opening scene of the film, Mercury wakes up on the day of his Live Aid performance with Queen. He's preparing for the show as the opening credits roll, and the audience sees bits of his massive house and his many cats. As he's leaving to head to Wembley Stadium, the audience gets a glimpse of a poster hanging on the wall. It's a poster of actress Marlene Dietrich in the film "Shanghai Express." Though most might not think anything of this or, if they do recognize Dietrich, assume that Mercury likes the actress, there is actually a more specific reason why she's featured.

Dietrich's picture from "Shanghai Express" was actually the inspiration for Queen's album cover art, "Queen II." If you look closely, Dietrich's pose, glance, coloring, and lighting all are examples of the similarity between the album cover photo of Queen. This isn't a coincidence, but rather an intentional piece of inspiration from photographer Mick Rock, who is sometimes called "the man who shot the '70s" because of his work with Queen, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and more (via American Songwriter).

Bicycle Race at the party

Mercury was known for partying a lot. He threw extravagant get-togethers with his friends and friends of friends, where he was always the king — or Queen — of the party. The audience can see bits of this in "Bohemian Rhapsody," especially about an hour into the film. Mercury hosts a lavish party and has his house packed wall to wall with party-goers. In the scene, Mercury mingles with everyone, and the audience sees a woman in the background riding a stationary bike, wearing nothing but a white underwear and bra set, and a white hat with a red stripe. Mercury walks by her and smacks her butt, and though most might find this interaction par for the course at a Freddie Mercury party, there's actually a deeper meaning to this small character.

The woman is actually perfectly imitating the cover art to Queen's double-sided single, "Bicycle Race" and "Fat Bottomed Girls" (via Genius). On the cover, there's a woman in a similarly fashioned hat riding a bike, but with even less clothing. It's a small, blink-and-you-miss-it scene, but a great hidden detail to pay homage to a wildly popular double-sided single.

Queen meets U2

In the beginning of the film, Mercury heads to Wembley Stadium for the Live Aid show. As he's amping himself up and getting ready to take the stage, he passes by a group that has just come from their performance. Though not everyone will put it together, the band that passes Mercury is none other than U2. Led down the stairs by lead singer Bono (Martin McCann), the group, including The Edge (Mark Griffin), Adam Clayton (David Tudor), and Larry Mullen Jr. (Sean Doyle), passes by Mercury with excitement and joy as they leave the stage.

They're only there for a few seconds, and they didn't immediately precede Queen in the real Live Aid performance, but it's clear to any U2 fan that they're the ones walking by Mercury. Queen's Live Aid performance, though iconic and often referenced in today's music circle, wasn't the only performance that made waves at the music festival. U2's performance is also considered historic and is also a huge reason why they have had so much success in their career. Showing U2 in the film is a great way to pay homage to the band and their outstanding performance at Live Aid.

Just another trucker?

There are a few great cameos in the film, both from real actors and from fictional appearances, but one of the smallest and most gratifying cameos comes from Adam Lambert. In the film, Mercury is on tour with Queen and makes a call home to Mary (Lucy Boynton), his love interest, to catch up. While on the phone with her, a man in a Mack truck pulls up to the stop, and when he gets out of the car, the trucker makes eyes at Mercury before walking into the men's room. Mercury is intrigued by the trucker and watches him walk away.

That trucker is Adam Lambert, heavily disguised in costume and facial hair. There was much speculation as to whether or not the real Queen band members would make cameos in the film. Although the other band members didn't, their new frontman Lambert, who started performing with Queen in 2011 and has been ever since, stepped in to provide fans with a hidden gem of a cameo. Lambert confirmed the cameo on his Twitter, jokingly saying "Who is he!?" with a picture of the trucker, and promoted the "Bohemian Rhapsody" digital download (via Variety).

Mercury is no Liar

After Mercury joins the band, before their name is even formed, the group hits the road to try and get things started. While they're in their van, they blow a tire and have to pull over to fix it. While pulled over, the friends start to theorize what they can do to make it in the industry, and Mercury suggests they sell the van to get money to record an album. The rest of the group is skeptical, but ultimately they listen to Mercury and sell the van.

While they're pulled over, though, there's a quick shot of Mercury writing in a notebook. Upon a quick glance, and very difficult to see, the lyrics appear to be those from the Queen song "Liar," which is from the band's first album. Real fans will remember "Liar," even though it's a lesser-known song from the group. Though it's a flash, the scene is an authentic example of a hidden detail, because it would make sense that Mercury is working on songs for their first album at this time.

Not a lot of Bowie

One of Queen and Freddie Mercury's biggest collaboration projects comes from their song with David Bowie, "Under Pressure." With Bowie being such a huge figure in the music industry and their collaboration becoming such a famous project, it was assumed by fans that he would play some part in the film. However, in an interview with CinemaBlend, Producer Graham King said there was no thought about casting Bowie. "There was a lot of public talk about [how] I had that version [of the script]. But there wasn't. There was never a version."

Instead of making Bowie a huge part of the plot, the producers included him in two small ways. First, they play "Under Pressure" late in the film as Mercury finally rids himself of his awful manager, Paul Prenter. The second, less obvious way, is in the very beginning of the film while Mercury is preparing for Live Aid. The audience can see a photographer taking pictures of someone with a reddish hairstyle and gray-looking suit, who is clearly meant to be Bowie because the hair and outfit are what he wore during his Live Aid performance. It's a small but kind way to honor Bowie, especially since they weren't planning on putting him in the film at all.

Queen's logo design

Queen is known for their very intricate and flamboyant logo. This logo is depicted slightly in the film when Mercury is trying to brainstorm what the logo should be. While his notebook is open, you can see his simple logo design on the bottom, and a glimpse of their official logo design on the top. The official logo design is intricate and has a lot of meaning behind it.

First, the logo includes the zodiac signs of each member. There's a crab for Cancer, representing Brian May's July birthday, two lions representing Roger Taylor and John Deacon's Leo signs and July and August birthdays, respectively, and two goddesses of wheat and agriculture that also look like fairies to represent Mercury's Virgo sign and September birthday. The Q with a crown inside represents the royal status of the Queen, and the phoenix on top is meant to represent never-ending life, power, and passion. The Queen crest has been a staple of the band's presence and is used in their concerts and new music still today (via Smooth Radio).

Real costumes

One of the coolest aspects of "Bohemian Rhapsody" comes from the intricate costume design. The designer, Julian Day, had quite a lot to work with, especially because Roger Taylor and Brian May were both producers of the film and worked with Day on using and recreating original designs. According to an article from Fashionista, Day put a lot of effort into recreating each band member's costumes at different times in the film, including things like enlisting Adidas to reproduce shoes from the '80s that Mercury and May both wore, reaching out to original leather designer Robert Alsop to recreate the studded belt and armband that Mercury wore in the Live Aid show, and asking Wrangler to recreate Mercury's old jeans with exact back pocket stitching and label.

However, one of the coolest elements of the costume design is that Day raided May's actual closet to find his old clothes from the '70s and '80s to dress his actor in for authenticity. May invited him to borrow clothes like a white leather bomber and a personalized robe. It's so exciting to think about which clothes are the original designs and which are recreated to be authentic while watching "Bohemian Rhapsody," and Day also deserves much praise for his attention to detail.