Image Source: Getty / Tom Wargacki
The upcoming film Bohemian Rhapsody explores the life, music, and loves of legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Starring Rami Malek as Mercury (and with an obviously killer soundtrack), Bohemian Rhapsody is expected to be the cinematic celebration Queen fans have been waiting for. But it wouldn't be a Mercury biopic without exploring the singer's greatest love: Mary Austin.
Austin, who is portrayed by Lucy Boynton, was Mercury's longterm friend and ex-girlfriend. According to Queen keyboardist and cofounder Brian May in the 2000 documentary Freddie Mercury, The Untold Story, May and Mercury would often frequent London fashion house Biba in order to have a peak at the retailer's gorgeous female employees. One of these shop girls was Mary Austin, who May took out on a few dates before introducing her to Mercury. In the documentary, Austin recounts Mercury routinely visiting the shop in order to see her. After five months of this, Mercury finally asked Austin out. She said yes, of course, and fast forward to five months later and the couple were living together in a London flat.
Austin and Mercury lived together as a couple for six years. May recounts how serious the singer was about Austin — in early interviews, Mercury calls Austin his common-law wife, saying while they were not officially married, they considered themselves as such. Mercury referred to Austin as such until his death, despite his relationships with men. She noticed something was off about Mercury during the last two years of their relationship, shortly after the band joined John Reid Enterprises. In Untold Story, she describes how she'd notice Mercury"avoiding situations" and how she sensed he was feeling bad about something. "I knew this man was not one with himself," she said.
Mercury came out to Austin as gay in 1976 after reportedly having an affair with a man, ending their relationship — but not the love they had for each other. "It was a relief really, to actually hear it from him. To know that I had guessed more or less right," Austin said in Untold Story.
Mercury moved out of their London flat and bought Austin a home nearby, employing her as his personal assistant and adviser. In the 2012 biography Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury, he's quoted saying, "All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary, but it's simply impossible. I couldn't fall in love with a man the same way I did with Mary."
"All my lovers asked me why they couldn't replace Mary, but it's simply impossible."
In 1987, after multiple failed attempts at contacting Mercury, his doctors reached out to Austin to share some alarming test results: Mercury was HIV-positive. "I felt my heart fall," Austin said. Mercury passed away from bronchopneumonia resulting from AIDS a mere 24 hours after releasing a statement about his disease in 1991. He left Austin his mansion, a large sum of his wealth, recording royalties, and one of music's biggest secrets — the location of his ashes. Per Mercury's wishes, Austin placed his cremated ashes in a location that she refuses to disclose to this day.
While Mary Austin isn't a household name, she is often referred to as Mercury's muse, and is cited as the inspiration behind songs like "Love of My Life" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." Today, she is 67 and lives a quiet life away from the public eye. While Austin and Mercury's love story remains relatively unknown to many, we have a feeling Bohemian Rhapsody will change that, bringing new life to what seemed like a remarkable relationship.