Northern Ireland

Bafta: Queen director Singer allegations 'cast a shadow'

Bryan Singer Image copyright AFP
Image caption Bryan Singer said the allegations came from "a piece of vendetta journalism"

A Northern Ireland actor who stars in Bohemian Rhapsody has said allegations against director Bryan Singer have "cast a shadow" over the production.

Aaron McCusker, who plays Freddie Mercury's lover Jim Hutton, was speaking to BBC NI's The Sunday News.

Singer was removed from his film's Bafta Awards nomination due to allegations he sexually abused under-age boys.

Singer, 53, denies the allegations, which he calls a "homophobic smear".

Bafta said Bohemian Rhapsody "remains nominated" for the Outstanding British Film award on Sunday - but Singer's nomination had been "suspended".

The allegations come from an article in The Atlantic, which quotes four men it says have not spoken publicly before.

The 2019 Bafta Film Awards will take place at London's Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 10 February.

McCusker told the BBC he had had very little contact with Mr Singer.

Singer was fired as the director of Bohemian Rhapsody three weeks before filming was complete for what was referred to as "unreliable behaviour on the set".

He said he had been ill and the studio was "unwilling to accommodate" him during that illness. His name remains on the film's credits.

"The very first day I turned up to shoot he was four hours late," McCusker told the BBC.

"I had one scene where he directed me but there were a huge amount of people in the scene so I'd no real one-on-one with him.

"When I sat and spoke to him he was fine with me. I can't comment much on what he was like because he never really directed me much," he added.

Mr McCusker said his main scenes were directed by Dexter Fletcher, who took on directing duties after Singer was fired.

'Kick in the teeth'

"Whether or not these allegations are true, a lot of individuals put a lot of work into a film and for this nomination to be pulled because of one person, I understand it, but it's a kick in the teeth for others," said McCusker.

"People like the supporting artists, the costumes, the make-up - for all the other people who were there and worked very hard on this film.

"For people to hone in on this one person, I understand because he's the director and the bigwig but it's not fair on everyone else who was involved.

Speaking about the film in general he said it "wonderful" to see it doing well because the "critics didn't say nice things about it - it was the audience".

However he added that while it was "fantastic to be in it" he now had to put it behind him and move on.

"Yes it was successful but the past doesn't pay my bills - the future does," he added.

'Unacceptable'

In a statement released on Wednesday, Bafta said it considered the American's alleged behaviour "completely unacceptable and incompatible" with its values.

The academy said it recognised "Mr Singer's denial of the allegations" but that his suspension would remain in place "until the outcome of the allegations has been resolved".

It added: "For the avoidance of doubt, Bohemian Rhapsody remains nominated in the Outstanding British Film category, and the other individuals named as candidates in respect of the film remain nominees.

"Bafta believes everyone has the right to a fulfilling career in a safe, professional working environment, and it will continue to collaborate with the film, games and television industries to achieve this."

Singer has previously directed films such as X-Men, Superman Returns and The Usual Suspects, for which he received a Bafta nomination in 1996.

Last month, the Freddie Mercury biopic was removed as a nominee for a major LGBT award following the accusations against Singer.

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