Actor Profile: Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen made his mark in the comedy world as his alter ego “Ali G”, host of HBO’s popular, multiple-Emmy-nominated comedy Da Ali G Show. Initially regarded as the #1 comedy phenomenon in England, the show was an instant success after airing on HBO in 2003. Baron Cohen originated the character of “Ali G” in 1998 on the British television comedy The 11 O’Clock Show. Baron Cohen served as an executive producer on the series, in addition to acting and writing for it. Fond of performing in character, Baron Cohen has twice hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards to record numbers, in 2001 as “Ali G” in Frankfurt, Germany, then in 2005 as “Borat” in Lisbon, Portugal. He won the GQ Man of the Year Award four times on both sides of the Atlantic and delivered the 2004 Class Day address at Harvard University as “Ali G”.
Da Ali G Show received six Emmy Award nominations. In 2003 it was nominated for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program, Outstanding Writing Non-Fiction Program, and Outstanding Directing Non-Fiction Program. In 2005 the show was nominated for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series; Outstanding Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series; and Outstanding Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series. The show also received accolades in the UK prior to its stateside debut, with Sacha Baron Cohen garnering two BAFTA Awards®. After completing two seasons, Baron Cohen set out to conquer the world with Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, a feature film starring his second alter ego, Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakhstani news reporter.
Baron Cohen is known worldwide for creating “one of the greatest comedies of the last decade and perhaps even a whole new genre of film,” according to Rolling Stone Magazine. Borat opened #1 in 24 countries while setting a U.S. box office record for films opening on 1000 screens or less grossing over $26 million. Ultimately the film grossed more than $250 million worldwide. In 2007, Baron Cohen took home the Golden Globe® for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and an Academy Award® nomination for Adapted Screenplay.
Since its release in November 2006, Borat has garnered numerous awards and honors. The film was named one of the Ten Most Outstanding Motion Pictures of the Year by AFI. Individually, Baron Cohen received Writer of the Year at the 2007 British Writers Guild Awards and was nominated for WGA Award in the Adapted Screenplay category. Baron Cohen won Best Actor awards from the Los Angeles Films Critics Association, Utah Film Critics, San Francisco Films Critics Circle, Toronto Film Critics Association, and Online Film Critics.
His feature film projects include the hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. He was also the voice behind the animated character “King Julien” in the DreamWorks animated feature Madagascar, which grossed over $500 million worldwide. In 2008, Baron Cohen returned as the voice of “King Julien” in the sequel Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa, which grossed $594 million worldwide. In 2007, Baron Cohen appeared with Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the classic Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In this Academy Award® winning film, Baron Cohen co-stared as ‘Signor Adolfo Pirelly,’ Todd’s (Depp) competitor in the haircutting world.
In 2009, Baron Cohen returned to the screen as “Bruno”, his other alter-ego character from Da Ali G Show. Re-teaming with his Borat collaborator Jay Roach, Baron Cohen helped produce and write Bruno. This Universal Picture’s film grossed $138 million worldwide and won The Peter Sellers Award for Comedy.
Baron Cohen will be teaming up with renowned director Martin Scorsese in the upcoming film Hugo Cabret. Joining them as one of the films producers is former Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street co-star Johnny Depp. This mystery set in the 1930’s is about an orphan who is trapped in the walls of a Paris train station and gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his father played by Jude Law. The film is scheduled for release on December 9, 2011.
Re-collaborating with director Larry Charles, Baron Cohen will be starring in the upcoming Paramount Pictures’ film The Dictator, which is scheduled for release in May 2012. Baron Cohen will also be working as a writer and producer of this highly anticipated film. The comedic film is based on the best-selling novel “Zabibah and The King”, which tells the story of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Undoubtedly Baron Cohen has captured audiences with his character’s “Bruno” and “Ali G”, however, his true scope of talent will be seen in the upcoming Freddie Mercury Biopic scheduled for release in 2013. Baron Cohen will star as “Freddie Mercury” in this highly anticipated film that tells the story of the years leading up to Queen’s appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Writer for this film is Academy Award® nominee, Peter Morgan, joined by the film’s producer, Academy Award® winner, Robert De Niro.
Baron Cohen resides in both Los Angeles and London with his wife, actress Isla Fisher, and their two daughters.
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