Sacha Noam Baron Cohen (born 13 October 1971) is an English stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and voice actor. A graduate of Cambridge University, Baron Cohen is most widely known for writing and playing unorthodox fictional characters who interact with and often ridicule unsuspecting people.
Only now, with The Dictator, is Baron Cohen clearly stunt-starved, aiming his work smack-dab into the solar plexus of American preconceptions about the Middle East.
The Dictator, which opened this week, is the story of a Middle Eastern despot, Aladeen, who is removed from power during a trip to the USA. The humor is derived from jokes that lampoon beheading, 9/11, rape and other despicable acts.
"He reinvents all the rules and has more courage than the rest of us," Apatow says. "His six funniest moments are six of the funniest moments in comedy history."
Actor and writer Sacha Baron Cohen is famous for taking his characters — Ali G., Borat, Bruno — into the real world, interacting with people who have no idea that they're dealing with a fictional character. But his new movie, The Dictator, is a scripted comedy about a tyrant on the loose in New York.
Moammar Khadafy may have been a scourge to the people of Libya, but he was a comedy goldmine for Sacha Baron Cohen.
Giving a rare interview out of character, the 40-year-old British actor told “CBS This Morning” that the late Libyan despot was the inspiration behind the titular buffoon in Cohen’s new movie “The Dictator.”
It seems like a stroke of genius casting Sacha Baron Cohen as the charismatic Queen, Freddie Mercury, in the untitled biopic currently in development. Writer Peter Morgan (“The Last King of Scotland,” “Frost/Nixon”), who’s still working his way through the first draft of the script, revealed to Cinemablend that the whole thing was Cohen’s idea.
The ugliness that Baron Cohen gleaned — the xenophobia he mustered from those who met Borat, or the legendary though hardly surprising moments of homophobia revealed in Brüno — seemed timely, and potent. They hardly seemed legendary in retrospect — more like moments purposefully induced, planned, hunted down for effect. The larger and more comic the Disneyesque head of his characters became, the more social insight was replaced by social stunt.
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.
The character was wildly popular, gaining Baron Cohen his own program, Da Ali G Show, in 2000, which was brought to the U.S. in 2003. Baron Cohen employed a comedic technique that consisted mainly of acting stupid as many well-known guests such as Pat Buchanan, Buzz Aldrin, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, afraid of looking uncool, would play along and try to answer his inane or bizarre questions.
A middle child, he grew up in a London surburb. His father operated a number of clothing stores and his mother worked as a fitness instructor. Cohen developed a passion for breakdancing as a teen and belonged to a Jewish youth group through which he first started acting.
When asked about people who may be offended by the skewering of stereotypes — including Muslims — in his brand of comedy, Baron Cohen briefly turned serious.
“The idea is that comedy should be free,” he told his interviewers. “To single out a particular group and say we can’t make a joke about them is almost a form of prejudice and it’s kind of patronizing.”