On the heels of Bohemian Rhapsody’s two major Golden Globe wins — including Best Motion Picture Drama — and five Oscar nominations — including Best Picture — Bryan Singer, the film’s maligned director, faces fresh allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.
The Atlantic’s thoroughly reported piece contains specific details from over 50 sources, including four men who had never publicly spoken about their life-altering encounters. And much like the repetitive nature of the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, their stories tell the same chilling tale of Singer, a powerful, in-demand man in the film industry and host of infamous Hollywood pool parties, where he would prey on the vulnerability of teenage boys — promising them acting gigs, giving them access to his successes, fueling them with drugs and alcohol, and using their bodies for his own pleasure or that of his friends.
In a statement provided to numerous outlets, Singer denied the accusations and called the report a “homophobic smear piece.”
“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism. That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”
It’s worth noting that according to the writers of The Atlantic piece, that statement is misleading. In a statement provided via The Atlantic’s communications team, Maximillian Potter and Alex French note that Esquire’s fact-checking and legal team approved of the sources and reporting; it was executives on the top who killed the piece for unknown reasons. The piece was also vetted by The Atlantic’s team before publication.
Regardless, the harrowing report is nothing new for industry insiders. Singer first faced assault allegations in April 2014, when Michael Egan sued the director, alleging rape. The lawsuit was dropped months later — but not before BuzzFeed published a lengthy report detailing the director’s party-hard lifestyle — and Singer moved forward, career virtually unscathed in the years before the #MeToo movement reached the mainstream.
But Singer’s reputation still preceded him, particularly within Hollywood’s gay community. Soon after the latest report’s publication, Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander took to Twitter to denounce the director. “Bryan singer and his LA pool parties are ACTUAL Hollywood nightmares that many people have spoken out about for a long time,” he wrote. “He’s a deranged, abusive and sadistic man, so are his accomplices. It is so incredibly difficult for survivors to come forward, Love and respect to them x.”
Many others either remained unaware of or turned a blind eye to the past allegations and gossip lingering in Singer’s orbit — including, apparently, Bohemian Rhapsody’s now-decorated star, Rami Malek.
In an interview following news of his Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury, Malek told the Los Angeles Times that he “didn’t know much about Bryan” while he was preparing for the role. “I think that the allegations and things were, believe it or not, honestly something I was not aware of, and that is what it is,” the actor said, before suggesting that “perhaps that was Freddie himself” pushing the cast and crew to persevere through the adversity that came when, according to reports, Singer stopped showing up to the set and was fired with weeks of filming to go. (Also around this time, in December 2017, Singer was hit with another lawsuit alleging sexual assault of a minor — an accusation he swiftly and vehemently denied.)
When asked how fans can reconcile their love of the film with their disdain for Singer’s prior actions, Malek subtly suggested that the crew did what they could, given the circumstance. “I think they can understand that Bryan Singer was fired from the film. And that can be something that they can look at from a perspective of understanding why they can appreciate the film,” he said, then redirected the questioning away from the controversy to thank Dexter Fletcher, who directed the remainder of the movie — not unlike the deflection the Bohemian Rhapsody team utilized at the Golden Globes.
Gwilym Lee, who portrays guitarist Brian May in the Queen biopic, reacted to Malek’s interview with a hearty hear, hear. “This says it all...a leading man became a leader,” he wrote on Twitter. But not all fans are satisfied, questioning how much (or how little) Malek really knew about Singer’s nefarious reputation.
But the biggest question that remains — and the only one that can really change at this point — is what happens to Singer moving forward. Will he be exiled from the Hollywood elite, like Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and others before him, or will he get that $10 million payday from Millennium Films to direct a “female-empowered” Red Sonja remake?