The real Sacha Baron Cohen speaks!

1053__sacha_l The current wave of Boratmania has made some journalists huffy over Sacha Baron Cohen’s refusal to be interviewed except in character as the Kazakh buffoon — and over media outlets’ willingness to play his game. According to this line of thinking, interviewing Borat as if he were a real person not only deprives readers of any insight into Baron Cohen’s actual motivations and lets him off the hook as far as explaining the controversies he’s generated, but it also makes his interviewers into willing shills for the movie. (EW interviewed SBC as Borat, too, but at least we did it back in August, when such interviews were still a fun novelty, before he had beaten into the ground the jokes about drinking fermented horse urine that have been his stock answers as Borat has made the rounds in print and on TV.)

I don’t really buy this reasoning. Let’s face it, every time an actor gives an interview, it’s a performance. He’s always in character, even if the character is simply a politer, more charming, more gracious version of himself. Actors tend to come to interviews with an agenda and a set of scripted responses to anticipated questions. That doesn’t mean they’re being dishonest, though some actors I’ve interviewed have lied to my face. But it does mean you have to take what they say with some skepticism. By agreeing to publish the interview, an outlet has already acquiesced to the first item on the actor’s agenda, which is to publicize his movie. Getting the actor to say something informative is gravy. At least Borat generates interviews that are fun to read.

Anyway, those naysayers can stop griping because Sacha Baron Cohen has finally granted an interview as himself (pictured), to Rolling Stone. The magazine has posted an extended excerpt, and alas, it’s not too full of surprises. As you might have guessed, Baron Cohen says that characters like Ali G and Borat are masks that allow him liberties he couldn’t take as himself, and that his movie is more about exposing prejudice and ignorance in America than making fun of Kazakhstan. Maybe there are juicier revelations in the part of the interview that’s not online, or maybe he just doesn’t generate user-friendly sound bites the way his alter egos do. Or maybe the "Sacha Baron Cohen" who spoke to RS is also a character, a performance. Oh well, guess next time it’s back to horse pee.

addCredit(“Sacha Baron Cohen: Jon Furniss/”)


Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • kennyk

    Whether he speaks as “Borat,” “Ali G,” or “Bruno,”
    I liiiiiike hearing what Cohen has to say. He is a comedic genius, in character or not.

  • Jen O.

    When he’s not sporting his various goofball shticks, he’s kinda hot.

  • Stephanie

    I agree Jen, the guy is in the words of Adam Sandler “a fine looking Jew!”
    He is an intelligent comedian, and there are not that many out there.

  • ben

    He is not that funny..and his movie is in the real of “jackass”…he needs better material…

  • diggity

    I think he’s totally hot. I am sick of Borat. Lets see more Sacha.

  • Madeleine

    I hate that he stays in character during interviews. I want to know how he created and got into the character, the behind-the-scenes, how it all came about, the creative process. Seeing a clip of the movie makes me want to see the movie. But seeing the character live or in print interviews, not so much. It annoys me, it’s not a true interview then.
    Plus, think the more he JUST plays Borat exclusively, he runs the risk of the public tiring of the Borat character quickly, it becomes old, real fast.

  • JillyRo

    I’m not surprised. He’s pretty private/reclusive. He was SO FUNNY as the voice of a character in the animation Madagascar, but there were no interviews of him in the DVD behind the scenes, no mention of him.
    And now he is just playing Borat, all the time, everywhere (though funny in the movie, I’m getting sick of it already).

  • Ep Sato

    It is possible to hear Cohen as himself. He comments on a few of the episodes on the Ali G dvds, and talks about Borat in his real voice. Of course, most of the stuff he talks about has already been revealed: Cohen’s Jewish background, the stinky suit and a pretty decent explanation on Borat’s origins.
    IMHO, it seems even Cohen was a little surprised at how frank people were towards his characters and probably decided to run with the idea. Even though his comments sometimes upset the people he interviews, I enjoy his work. The interviews with Dr. Buzz Aldrin & former Surgeon General C Everet Coop still make me want to make reservations on the moon and ask my Dr. about a cel phone implant.

  • Peter

    BORAT RULES!!!!!

  • girard31

    Let’s see, you get frat boys from South Carolina drunk and they spout racist and misogynistic garbage, you merely talk to a rodeo owner in Virginia and he waxes old school on race relations, you bring a bag of poop to a dinner party host and she asks you to leave.
    So I ask you, what did Borat expose about America that we didn’t already know?
    Perhaps that a movie featuring male nude wrestling could hold down the number one spot for two weeks? Now that was a revelation.

  • brandonk

    In the Vanity Fair article on him, the author suggested that “Sacha Baron Cohen” is also a character and someday we’ll find out this guy is a plumber from Sweden or something. I never liked Ali G, but after seeing Borat, I’m looking forward to Bruno.

  • Ep Sato

    Is there any way to get Cohen to do more work with the Slacker Pack? He was great accross from Will Farrell and John C Reily ( SHAKE AND BAKE! ). So long as he stays wacky and finds ways to make people uncomfortable, he’ll be worth watching.

  • James G

    On the person who made the comment about what we don’t know about Americans who are racist, misogynistic, or homophobic…Cohen as Borat is exposing this. Granted we all know Americans are like that. But actually seeing them say these thing with their guard down is priceless. I don’t think any of the people Borat interviewed would say the things they said if a movie was gonna be shown here in the US, to the viewing public.

  • dfhrbmcti uprv

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