Bohemian Rhapsody interview

Som optakt til udgivelsen af Bohemian Rhapsody på UHD blu-ray, blu-ray og dvd den 18. marts, bringer vi et interviewet med med Joe Mazzello, der spiller John Deacon i Bohemian Rhapsody. Filmen har indtil videre vundet 31 priser og har fået 61 nomineringer.

Q+A with Joe Mazzello (John Deacon)

Joe Mazzello an American actor, director, and screenwriter. He is best known for his roles as Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park (1993), Eugene Sledge in the HBO miniseries The Pacific and Dustin Moskovitz in The Social Network (both 2010). He directed the 2016 movie Undrafted, in which he also appeared. In the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody he stars as bass player John Deacon who wrote some of the world’s most iconic basslines, notably Another One Bites The Dust and Under Pressure. As a songwriter he penned their smash hit I Want To Break Free among others…

Do you remember when you began listening to Queen?

I do. Bohemian Rhapsody was the very first song I ever downloaded on Napster. That was one of the first moments. Then, actually, at high school I made a student film and I put Another One Bites The Dust in the credits. Then when I was older I directed a film in 2013 and to get myself pumped up to go to set every day I would listen to Somebody To Love. So Queen have just kept popping up. It is funny because when I was a kid it was the Pearl Jam and Nirvana era, like grungy and serious. It was like, ‘You don't get it, dad!’ It was the kind of music where you took yourself really seriously, so when I was a kid Queen felt like a bit of a novelty. Their music was very celebratory and fun and I didn't appreciate it. It was when I got to college that I started realizing that their music is brilliant. The music is intricate. They cross genres all the time. Their bass lines are incredible and the harmonies are unreal. Lyrically, what they are saying speaks to me and the fact that they can write music that was celebratory and it was grand and they were unapologetic about it, I suddenly got very into that and started seeing Queen in a way that I should always have seen them. And my fandom has just gone up a steady incline until this moment when I found out that I was going to be a part of this movie. And now the songs that I didn't ever appreciate are among my favourites just because I know who wrote them and why and where they were in their lives when they wrote them. And maybe I hear the bass lines that I didn't hear at first.
Was it frustrating that Gwilym got to jam with Brian May and yet John wasn’t involved…

It is his right. John was never someone who enjoyed the limelight. You watch interviews with him and you see him relieved when they are over. And you get something from that, even playing the character and feeling how affected he was by Freddie's death. I tried to portray that in the film; that he wanted to live a very simple, private life. I took something from that and tried to put it into the character. Do I still to this day hope that one day when this has all settled down I can be in London and just have a cup of tea with him? One hundred per cent. I would love to meet the man, just to tell him how much I appreciate him and what a joy it was to try and tell his story and to try to be authentic to who he was, and to tell him I did my best. I did get to meet one of his sons, Luke, though. Meeting Luke was wonderful because I felt all of John's intellect and his humour and his thoughtfulness coming out through his son. He looked so much like him; it was wild.
Which Queen performance gave you the best insight to John?

The truth is dependent on the song and era. There were some times I would cheat up a little bit like when I remember watching him perform Bohemian Rhapsody in the early ’80s. In the early ’80s he wore sneakers and so he was able to move around more, not like in the ’70s when he had those big heels and had to be very still. So he did this sort of movement and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, we have to get that into the movie,’ so even though we were preforming it in the ’70s, I threw it in just to get pieces of that. But the one concert that was the most influential for me was the year we didn't even do, 1986, because on YouTube you can just follow John Deacon. They had a John Deacon camera so you can watch the entire set just focussed on him, so I watched everything he would do, when he would take his breaks, where he would come to the front and when he would scale back. I really got to see and get his movements down the most from that concert.
Do you ever feel that he is occasionally the forgotten man because Freddie is so much the front man and everyone knows Brian's sound, and how important Roger was with the harmonies and the glamour? John sometimes feels overlooked. Maybe he cultivated that…

Yes. I think that is the way John likes it a little bit. And it is funny because their biggest hit ever is Another One Bites The Dust. It is the biggest selling one, and it's got that most iconic bass line — that along with the Under Pressure bass line that he wrote and forgot and had to be reminded of.
Really? He forgot the Under Pressure bass line?

He wrote it when they were playing around in the studio and they went to lunch, came back and they were all like, ‘John, what’s that amazing bass line you wrote?’ He was like, ‘I don't remember,’ and Roger had to remind him. Imagine being that good, that much of a genius, that you have written one of the most iconic bass lines in history and it is so casual for you that you just forget it. John was really special in that way. He was under the radar but the band knew how important he was with the songs that he wrote, like I Want To Break Free, Another One Bites The Dust and You’re My Best Friend. I don't think he needed the limelight and never desired it. People who know the music appreciated him and that is the thing we wanted to get across in the film. We have the creation of Another One Bites The Dust in the movie and you really see John in his element. I am so glad we have that.
Speaking of I Want To Break Free, you feature the shooting of that music video and the US reaction to it in the movie. What are your memories of recreating it?

It was hysterical and so much fun. We just couldn't wait for it because we saw how they were all dressed up and it was just going to be hilarious. We thought that Ben [Hardy, playing Roger] would make a more attractive woman because Roger Taylor really is an attractive woman in that video. But Ben has something about his legs — they were too thick; he’d played too much rugby or something. I wasn't into him as a woman as much as I thought I would be! I play the grandma, which was really fun, and Rami [Malek, Freddie] with the moustache and the boobs was hysterical.
Was that the best video to shoot then?

Actually, for me when we took that diamond shape for the Bohemian Rhapsody music video, that was the thing that I was looking forward to the most. And just being a part of that, which is maybe one of the most iconic images in musical history, was like the most special thing in the world. I was so proud. You only see a little bit of it in the movie but we actually filmed the whole song and we even did things like when John closes his eyes for ‘A little high, a little low’; I wanted to make sure that I did that. Every day was a new and incredible fun thing to do. You would do these concerts, then a dramatic moment and then you would do a concert again and then you would do a music video. It was like three jobs in one and to be able to create the songs, like the creation of Bohemian Rhapsody and the creation of Another One Bites The Dust and then We Will Rock You, was awesome.
How well could you play the bass prior to making the movie?

I took a year of guitar lessons back in college so I could play guitar but college was a long time ago and I had never picked up a bass. The first time I picked up a bass was when I was told that I looked a lot like John Deacon and they were interested in me for the role. It was about three months before I got the job and so I went to my best friend and said, ‘Give me your bass guitar!’ I knew I had to learn Another One Bites The Dust! I also knew I’d need to learn Crazy Little Thing Called Love. And bass is basically the top four strings of the guitar so the relationship of notes came back to me, but the finger style was something that I had never done before. I really tried to work on that and tried to do exercises that I found on YouTube. And then they brought me out about five weeks early to work with Paul Westwood, one of the best studio bassists in England. He is like on every song! I was doing lessons with him five days a week and I don't read music but I am familiar with it, sort of, and so he created this mash up thing, our own language, where I could learn these songs really quickly and before I knew it I was getting really good. Actually, Paul said, ‘You should keep it up, Joe, because you are very good at this.’
Will you?

Only if they would give me one of those bass guitars! I have been trying to get one of the basses that I played in the movie since we finished but they just keep going, ‘Oh, no, we need them for this or that.’ I think they want to put them up at the Hard Rock Café or something like that.
Did you get to play any songs entirely live on film?

When we were shooting, we were playing every single day because we had to do these concerts throughout the shoot, and the final one was Another One Bites The Dust. That was the last thing we performed together and we played that live. That is me playing live in the movie. A lot of the time you are playing to a backing track. But that was me playing and Gwil [Lee, Brian May] got jealous and wanted to plug in and so he plugged in and he started doing it. Then Ben was there on drums and then Rami was like, ‘Hey, when do you want me to come in with the lyric.’ I said, ‘We’ll just go off your cue,’ and we had this rare moment where we were literally a band. I am playing this intro until my lead singer gives me the cue and sings, ‘Steve walks warily down the street…’ It became this amazing moment where it all culminated into the four of us playing as a band together. It was awesome.
Tak til FOX Paramount Warner Home Entertainment / PR Nordic