Sacha Baron Cohen Unmasked: The Man Behind The Disguises

Sacha Baron Cohen is a man with many faces. You know him as Borat, Brüno, and Ali G (and now as his new characters for his new show, Who Is America?) but do you anything about the man behind the disguises?

He Was Banned From The 84th Academy Awards

Sacha Baron Cohen was barred from the 84th Academy Awards for spilling an urn containing the “ashes” of Kim Jong Il all over Ryan Seacrest’s tuxedo.

Photo Credit: @crk5 / Twitter
Photo Credit: @crk5 / Twitter

Ryan Seacrest was taken completely by surprise. The stunt cost Cohen his ticket into the awards, but it got him a lot of media attention.

Civilians Alerted The FBI About Borat

The FBI started compiling a file on Sacha Baron Cohen while he was filming Borat after receiving numerous complaints about a strange man traveling around the country in an ice cream truck.

Photo Credit: @Nicklaus_ / Twitter
Photo Credit: @Nicklaus_ / Twitter

Sacha Baron Cohen had this to say about the situation: “So the FBI got so many complaints that they started compiling a little file on us and eventually they came to visit us at the hotel. I obviously went missing when I heard because [the film crew] were like, ‘FBI’s downstairs. Sacha, disappear.'”

He Has A Degree From Cambridge

That’s right, the man behind Borat graduated from Cambridge University with a history degree. His comedy is a lot smarter than most people give him credit for.

Photo Credit: SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images
Photo Credit: SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images

Maybe Cambridge helped him develop his comedic mind. Some of the great British comedians went to Cambridge, and Cohen is one of them.

Before Cambridge He Went To A Very Famous Boy’s School

Sacha Baron Cohen went to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys in Hertfordshire. That’s the same school as broadcaster Alan Whicker, Little Britain star Matt Lucas, comedian David Baddiel, and former Formula 1 champion Damon Hill.

Photo Credit: Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Talk about good company. Keep reading to find out which pop star put a Sacha Baron Cohen character in her music video.

He Gave His Harvard Commencement Speech As Ali G

Back in 2004, Sacha Baron Cohen was invited to give a commencement speech for Harvard’s graduating class. Cohen decided to give the speech in character.

Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It’s one of the best Harvard commencement speeches of all time, and if you haven’t seen it, definitely look it up on YouTube.

He Trained As A Clown In Paris

Every comedian needs to start somewhere, and it doesn’t get more basic than clowning around.

Photo Credit: Ray Crowder/GC Images
Photo Credit: Ray Crowder/GC Images

Sacha took clown training in Paris, at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier, studying under master-clown Philippe Gaulier. Gaulier said that Cohen “was a good clown, full of spirit.” That’s basically a description of every Sacha Baron Cohen character ever.

He Was In A Madonna Music Video

Ali G, one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter egos, was featured in Madonna’s music video for her hit song “Music.”

Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau/VF/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau/VF/Getty Images

In the video, Madonna and her friends party and sing in a limousine driven by Ali G. I’d trust Sacha to drive a limo, but I’m not sure about Ali G.

No Fine Left Unpaid

Sacha Baron Cohen offered to pay fines for six Czech tourists who were arrested in Kazakhstan for wearing nothing but’Borat inspired mankinis.

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Robin Marchant/Getty Images
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

The Czech men were detained for “minor hooliganism.” I think minor hooliganism should be totally legal. Just a little bit of fun is ok.

Brüno Had A Severe Reaction To A Certain Cosmetic Procedure

In preparation for his film Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen decided to do a little downstairs maintenance, if you know what I mean.

Photo Credit: Mike Flokis/WireImage
Photo Credit: Mike Flokis/WireImage

Unfortunately for everybody, he suffered a severe reaction to the bleach where the sun don’t shine. I don’t care what anybody says, that’s commitment.

Why He Didn’t End Up Playing Freddie

Sacha Baron Cohen was supposed to star as Freddie Mercury in a biopic about the Queen frontman. Ultimately, he decided to leave the film over creative differences with Queen.

Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

He was told that Freddie died in the middle of the film. Initially, he thought that meant that the story was going to be told out of order, but then he realized that the second half of the film would be about how the band carried on without Freddie.

A Moustache To Remember

It takes Sacha about six weeks to grow Borat’s body, head, and facial hair. Ali G’s facial hair also takes around six weeks to perfect.

Photo Credit: Ian West – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ian West – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

When he’s transforming into Brüno, he shaves all of his hair (and I mean ALL of his hair) and he makes sure his body is super clean.

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Sacha Baron Cohen’s brother, Erran Baron Cohen, is an English composer and trumpet player. He is a founding member of the world music group Zohar.

Photo Credit: Ian West – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ian West – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

He also scored the original music for his brother’s films Borat and Brüno, as well as his TV series Da Ali G Show. Erran shares a name with one of Sacha’s newest characters, Erran Morad, which can’t just be a coincidence.

A “Surprise” Sequel To Borat Was Released In 2020

In 2020, a “surprise” new Borat movie was released. Not many people even knew that one was being made! With a mouthful of a title (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a shortened version), the sequel was filled with its fair share of controversy.

borat
Amazon Studios/@JR1313/MovieStillsDB
Amazon Studios/@JR1313/MovieStillsDB

Released on Amazon Prime Video on October 23, the film received praise for Baron Cohen’s performance.

Hugh Laurie Once Saved Him From Getting Beaten Up

One fine day in New York, Sacha, dressed as Borat, was exploring the streets with his friend Hugh Laurie.

Photo Credit: Janet Mayer/Star Max/GC Images
Photo Credit: Janet Mayer/Star Max/GC Images

Sacha as Borat approached a stranger and said something in character that was a bit insensitive. The stranger did not get the joke and decided to punch Borat in the face repeatedly. Hugh had to step in and calm things down.

Kazakhstan Loved The Borat Movie

After Borat was released in 2012, Kazakhstan’s foreign minister thanked Sacha Baron Cohen. The film caused a tenfold increase in the amount of issued Kazakhstan visas.

Photo Credit: Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

I guess you could say that Borat put Kazakhstan on the map. I mean, it was on the map before, but now we know where it is on the map.

Sacha’s Cousin Is A World Class Autism Researcher

Sacha Baron Cohen has a cousin, Simon Baron Cohen, who is a Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge. Simon is an internationally recognized autism researcher.

Photo Credit: @EFHerne / Twitter
Photo Credit: @EFHerne / Twitter

I think his CV is just as impressive as Sacha’s television career. Keep reading to find out how Sacha got his start in the industry.

There’s A Judd Apatow Collab In The Works

All the way back in 2008, we found out that Judd and Sacha would be working together on a comedic Sherlock Holmes film.

Photo Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

The film also stars John C. Reily and Will Ferrell. It’s scheduled to come out in December 2018 (we’ve been waiting a long time).

Isla Fischer Converted To Judaism

Just in case you’ve been out of the loop for a while, Sacha Baron Cohen is married to actress Isla Fischer. They have three kids together.

Photo Credit: Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Before they got married, Isla spent three years converting to Judaism so that Sacha’s parents would approve of their marriage.

Dashing Good Looks

Sacha Baron Cohen worked as a male model before he made it big with Da Ali G Show.

Photo Credit: J. Merritt/Getty Images
Photo Credit: J. Merritt/Getty Images

All I can say is, I’m not surprised. He looks great without all the character makeup on. His actual face is definitely model material.

A Town Changed Thier Name Because Of Him

In 2012, the English town of Staines changed its name to Staines-upon-Thames, in part to distance itself from Sacha Baron Cohen’s fictional character Ali G.

Photo Credit: @StainesSurreyUk / Twitter
Photo Credit: @StainesSurreyUk / Twitter

Ali G frequently mentions that he’s from Staines. I don’t know if adding “upon-Thames” really accomplished anything, though. It’s nice that it rhymes, I guess.

He’s Friends With John Cena

Sacha Baron Cohen has been a lifelong fan of professional wrestling. Apparently, he’s even best buddies with John Cena.

Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

I guess that sort of explains the wrestling scene in Borat, although I’m not sure that I’ll ever truly understand that scene’s real purpose. I think it’s beyond all of us.