- NAME: Sacha Baron Cohen
- OCCUPATION: Actor
- BIRTH DATE: October 13, 1971 (Age: 42)
- EDUCATION: St. Columba's College Prep School, St. Albans, Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, Christ's College, Cambridge University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Hammersmith, London, England
- Full Name: Sacha Noam Baron Cohen
- ZODIAC SIGN: Libra
Best Known For
Sacha Baron Cohen is a British comedian and actor who is widely known for his portrayal of three unorthodox fictional characters: Ali G, Borat and Brüno.
Sacha Baron Cohen - Full Episode (45:14)
Cohen was born to an orthodox Jewish family in London and studied history before turning to comedy in 1995. As hipster Ali G, Cohen interviewed such luminaries as Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich, and had them all believing that it was real.
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He even received some threats to his personal well-being because the program, according to some reports.
The next of Cohen's characters to hit it big was Borat Sagdiyev, an oversexed, bigoted man-child television personality from Kazakhstan. With his origins in Da Ali G Show, Borat became the star of his own mocumentary film in 2006. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was a surprise smash, bringing in more than $128 million at the box office. With the premise of making a documentary about the United States, Borat traveled the country, interviewing people and getting involved in some unusual and sometimes disturbing situations. As the film's website explains, Borat's "backwards behavior generates strong reactions around him exposing prejudices and hypocrisies in American culture."
To do the satire, Cohen remained in character throughout the filming. "I had to be that way all day and all night, because even if the tiniest detail had gone awry, it could've made them suspicious," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2007. The convincing nature of this persona led to an anti-Semitic singalong in a bar and an encounter with some bitter frat boys in an RV who spewed a number of misogynistic and prejudicial remarks among other adventures.
Not everyone was laughing, however. Several lawsuits were filed after the film's release by several people—including the now notorious frat boys—claiming that they were duped by Cohen. He responded to this charge by saying, "This wasn't Candid Camera...I don't buy the argument that, 'Oh, I wouldn't have acted so racist or anti-Semitic if I'd known this film was being shown in America.' That's no excuse," he told the Los Angeles Times.
The government of Kazakhstan was also not happy with how the film portrayed their country. In the film, Borat showed some of the people he encountered explicit photographs of him and his "sister" and said that the country produced wine made from horse urine. Yerzhan Ashykbayev, a spokesperson for the country's foreign ministry, said that the Kazahstan might pursue legal action against Cohen. "We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way," he said.
Despite the controversy and the looming legal battles, Borat scored big with movie goers and critics alike. Cohen won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Outside of his own characters, Cohen has tackled roles in other comedies. He appeared as a French racecar driver in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) with Will Farrell and the musical Sweeney Todd (2007) with Johnny Depp. In a voiceover part, Cohen has played Julien, king of the lemurs in Madagascar (2005) and in its upcoming sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008). Next up for the actor-comedian-provocateur is a film about another one of his characters—Bruno, a gay, Austrian fashion correspondent.
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