TV & Movies

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Makes This Real Person The Bad Guy — But Here’s What Really Happened

20th Century Fox

Bohemian Rhapsody largely functions as a biopic about the legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, but it's also a major Hollywood motion picture. With that being the case, the film predictably takes some liberties with the truth in order to make Mercury's life story more dramatic and, well, more like a movie, and that includes the casting of a villain. That role is largely filled by Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) in the movie, as the singer's former manager is not presented in the best light. But what happened to the real Paul Prenter? Spoilers for the movie ahead.

In real life, Prenter was a radio DJ from Belfast, Northern Ireland who eventually met and became involved — both personally and professionally — with Mercury. Prenter first met Mercury at a bar in 1975, according to The Belfast Telegraph, and then became his manager in 1977. At some point during this time, Prenter and Mercury had a sexual relationship — which is something Prenter later allegedly used to blackmail Mercury, who wasn't technically out of the closet at the time. Their business relationship was thought to be largely positive for about the first five years of Prenter working for Mercury, but things started to head south in 1982, according to Metro UK.

Prenter is not known to have gotten along well with any of Queen's other members, and their fractured relationship reportedly came to a head with the release of the band's 1982 album Hot Space. According to Metro UK, band members Brian May and Roger Taylor disliked the record's sound and blamed Prenter's influence for it coming out the way it did. Still, Prenter remained in Mercury's employ for several more years.

In the film, Mercury finally fires Prenter in 1985, with the main reason being that the manager failed to inform Mercury about the opportunity for Queen to perform at the now-iconic Live Aid concert. In retaliation, the jilted Prenter then gives a television interview where he outs Mercury. In reality, Prenter was fired the following year, after the Live Aid concert, according to the Belfast Telegraph. As for Prenter's most well-known "villainous" moment, he didn't actually give a TV interview outing Mercury. Instead, he sold a story to The Sun tabloid in 1987 where he revealed Mercury's sexuality, and also outed the singer's relationship with Jim Hutton, much to Mercury's chagrin, according to Slate.

So the movie mixes up some facts regarding Prenter, possibly making him out to be more of a villain than he was in real life. But unfortunately for him, he won't be able to tell his side of the story. That's because Paul Prenter died in 1991 due to complications from AIDS, per The Belfast Telegraph. Coincidentally, that's the same year the disease took the life of Mercury.

All movies need a villain, and that includes biopics. Paul Prenter is presented as the bad guy in Bohemian Rhapsody, but having worked as Freddie Mercury's manager for nearly a decade, it's hard to believe that all of those years were as contentious as the film shows. Prenter is gone now, but his legacy lives on in the new film. It just may not be the legacy he wanted.