It is now clear that fearless English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen will go to any extreme to get a laugh…and it usually works. His new film The Dictator is described as "the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed." Cohen has already been spotted in character as Admiral General Aladeen partying with models on a yacht off the coast of Cannes, France now that the film has opened in theaters. The Dictator also co-stars go-to funny people like Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley and John C. Reilly.
The origins of many of Cohen's characters can be found on Da Ali G Show and its four-disc Da Compleet Seereez. Ali G is a clueless British African-Caribbean hip-hopper who somehow cons politicians and celebrities like Donald Trump, Ralph Nader, James Baker III and many more into hilariously uncomfortable interviews. "Booyakasha!" Da Ali G Show also offers our first glimpses of Kazakhstan native Borat and the flamboyantly gay fashion-show presenter Brüno.
Although Cohen got laughs as the homosexual French Formula One racer Jean Girard in 2006's Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, American audiences got their first real look at Cohen unhinged in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Cohen caught a lot of unsuspecting people off guard in the mockumentary as the titular fictional anti-Semitic Kazakhstan journalist traveling through the United States. What was even scarier than Borat's naked fight in a hotel with his overweight and hairy producer was the racist, intolerant and genuine reactions he got from real Americans caught on film responding to his character.
After playing the Italian barber who is Johnny Depp's main rival in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Cohen expanded Brüno for the big screen. Filmed with the same confrontational ambush style as Borat, Brüno has Cohen making people squirm with his over-the-top portrayal of a Euro queen. Also, like Borat, the most disturbing moments come not from Brüno's proposed TV-show intro featuring a talking penis but from the hateful, homophobic reactions of the film's unsuspecting stars: the American people.
With R-rated characters like Ali G, Borat and Brüno, you would think that Cohen would be the last person filmmakers would call for family films, but you'd be surprised. Cohen voiced the ring-tailed lemur King Julien XIII in Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, as well as the upcoming Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. Martin Scorsese also trusted Cohen to play Inspector Gustav in the director's loving homage to the history of cinema, Hugo, which is currently the only way to see Cohen in an added dimension on Blu-ray 3D.