Calderdale movie hero hails 'the spirit of Freddie Mercury' after Oscar win

John Warhurst won an Oscar for his contribution to Bohemian Rhapsody
John Warhurst won an Oscar for his contribution to Bohemian Rhapsody

With two BAFTAs already settled on the mantelpiece, you could have forgiven Brighouse-born sound editor John Warhurst for feeling content.

And heading off to Los Angeles for a pre-Oscars promo tour ahead of the night that saw him handed Hollywood’s grandest accolade two weeks ago, that he was.

Despite already claiming one of those BAFTAs for his work for monster hit Bohemian Rhapsody - the first came for Les Miserables in 2013 - he said he was largely unaware of the snowballing momentum behind his joint-nomination for Sound Editing the Queen biopic.

“We knew we had much less of a chance at the Oscars,” he said from a studio in London, where he is busy working on Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s eagerly-awaited epic Cats, “it’s much harder to win than the BAFTAs.

“Fox sent us off to LA to speak to some people and it all went from there. We promised ourselves we would give it the best shot we could.”

Despite having rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in Hollywood for many years, the former Rastrick Grammar School pupil said, on the night itself, the prospect of winning cinema’s biggest prize filled him with mixed emotions.

“We were told there was an audience of 100 million that night,” he said, “and we had to make a speech! It was terrifying from that point of view. But it was just an incredible feeling that we just couldn’t have expected. The whole night was a bit of a blur but it was incredible.”

John, 51, whose brother Andrew still lives in Brighouse, said it was an honour to work so closely on the film with music legends Brian May and Roger Taylor, members of the band itself.

He said: “There was a feeling that once we had the backing of Queen, there was such a sense of responsibility with this film, that we had to make full use of all the resources we had.

“They let us use some of the original recordings of the Bohemian Rhapsody track. I got to listen to the old recordings of Freddie Mercury’s solo tracks and we used them. It was an amazing experience.

“At first the critics were a bit down on it, but people just loved it. It just grew a life of its own. At one of the screenings, a woman told me she’d seen the film 28 times. That’s the sort of effect you want your films to have on people.”