Sacha Baron Cohen Overview:
Sacha Baron Cohen is a British comedian, writer and actor famous for his characters Ali G, Borat and Bruno, each of which has headlined a feature film. Baron Cohen is a true comedy chameleon, disappearing completely into his characters to the point of being unrecognizable. His comedy depends on fooling strangers (usually politicians or celebrities) into letting their guards down or creating awkward situations. He is a brilliant satirist, allowing people to show their true colors and forcing them to deal with discomfort and otherness.
Quick Sacha Baron Cohen Facts:
- Baron Cohen was born and raised in London, England.
- He began acting while studying at Cambridge University.
- He created and starred on England's version of Da Ali G Show in 2000, where he played his three main characters: hip hopper Ali G, Kazakhstani reporter Borat and Austrian fashion designer Bruno. An American version debuted on HBO in 2003.
- In 2006, he starred in the film Borat, which was a huge commercial success and won Baron Cohen the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.
- In 2009, another of Baron Cohen's characters got his own film with the release of Bruno.
Sacha Baron Cohen Early Live and TV Career:
Sacha Baron Cohen was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in London, England, in October of 1971. He attended prep school and private school in Hertfordshire before enrolling at Cambridge University. It was there that Baron Cohen began appearing on stage in school productions.
Shortly after graduating university, Baron Cohen began appearing on various TV series for British television. And, almost immediately, his career attracted controversy.
Bruno and Da Ali G Show:
Baron Cohen's first TV job came in the early '90s on Windsor cable, but he was fired after a "lewd" broadcast on Valentine's Day. From 1995 to 1996, he was the host of Pump TV and F2F.
In 1998, Baron Cohen made his first appearance as flamboyant fashion designer Bruno on the Paramount Comedy Channel, and the rest of his career was born. Clueless hip-hopper Ali G followed shortly thereafter, eventually getting his own series, Da Ali G Show, on Channel 4 in 2000. The series won the BAFTA for Best Comedy in 2001.
Sacha Baron Cohen Invades the U.S.:
In 2002, Baron Cohen took Ali G to the big screen with the film Ali G Indahouse. The film did not receive wide distribution in the U.S. until a few years later, when it went straight to DVD.
In 2003, the American version of Da Ali G Show debuted on HBO. Baron Cohen would interview politicians and celebrities (including Buzz Aldrin, Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich) in character either as Ali G, Bruno or Borat, and his interview subjects weren't in on the joke. Da Ali G Show was nominated for four Emmys during its two-season run on HBO.
Borat Becomes a Superstar:
In 2006, Baron Cohen went from cult hero to worldwide phenomenon with the release of Borat: Cultural Learnings of American for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The film was a massive box office success, winning seven major critics award (including the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy for Baron Cohen) and four more nominations.
Legal Trouble for Sacha Baron Cohen:
In addition to its success, Borat garnered controversy and ran into legal issues. The government of Kazakhstan threatened a lawsuit over the film, displeased with the country's portrayal as a backwards nation. Additionally, three college students appearing in the film sued the filmmakers, claiming they were coerced in signing releases while drunk and didn't know the film would play in the U.S. Both suits were eventually dismissed or dropped.
Claiming that he could no longer play Borat or Ali G because they were both overexposed (if he's recognized, the joke is ruined), Cohen received a huge payday to bring Bruno to the big screen. The finished film, called simply Bruno, was released in July of 2009.
Additonal Sacha Baron Cohen Facts:
- Sacha Baron Cohen worked for a short time as a fashion model after graduating college.
- He is engaged to and has a child with actress Isla Fisher.
- In addition to his own character vehicles, Baron Cohen occasionally acts in other films, including the Will Ferrell film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the Tim Burton version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He also provides a voice in the Madagascar animated films.
- In 2009, Cohen created a stir when he appeared as Bruno at the MTV Movie Awards. He was lowered from the ceiling (wearing only a thong) and landed in the lap of rapper Eminem, who stormed out of the theater in a rage. It was later revealed to be staged.