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Whishaw, Fletcher for Mercury film

Ben Whishaw is set to play Freddie Mercury in an upcoming Queen biopic, with Dexter Fletcher directing, according to reports.

Skyfall actor Ben, who has been in the frame to play the band's flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury since October, has already been preparing for his role in the movie, according to Deadline.

Sunshine On Leith filmmaker Dexter is also said to have "closed a deal" to direct the planned film about the rock group, and has met the band's members to get a feel for the story, with the intention to start production in 2014, the website reported.

The biopic, which is being written by Peter Morgan, has been the passion project of producer Graham King for several years, and initially had Sacha Baron Cohen attached to play Mercury before he left and Ben stepped in.

It would tell the story of the group's rise to fame, culminating in them headlining Live Aid in 1985, and feature some of Queen's hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.

Ben will next play Herman Melville in Ron Howard's The Heart Of The Sea and is set to reprise his role as gadget genius Q in the next James Bond film, following Skyfall.

Dexter - who starred in 80s series Press Gang and has appeared in Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake - turned to directing, making his debut with Wild Bill before Sunshine On Leith, a musical based on the Proclaimers songbook.

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