Sacha Baron Cohen has always been known to push the envelope, and things were certainly no different when he took the stage at the 88th annual Academy Awards this past Sunday. Dressed as one of his most famous characters, Ali G, Baron Cohen shocked the Oscars crowd as he and actress Olivia Wilde presented the Best Picture nominee, Room. However, Sacha’s appearance as Ali G wasn’t even supposed to happen.
Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife, actress Isla Fisher, hit the Oscars red carpet on Sunday evening and Baron Cohen stunned everyone, including himself, when he showed a very serious side when speaking to the press about the racial issues that surrounded this year’s ceremony.
“I don’t think the Academy is racist at all, but I think there is institutional racism here.”
“It’s not intentional, but there needs to be affirmative action to get more people of color – Latinos and African Americans – in at every level of the industry, which they aren’t. We’re here in LA, with one of the biggest African American populations in America, and yet Hollywood is almost exclusively white.”
Sacha Baron Cohen certainly isn’t known for his serious side. His comedic roles in Borat (2006), Bruno (2009) and The Dictator(2012) have been extremely controversial and widely criticized as being offensive. The “rude comedies” have Sacha respectively portraying a journalist from Kazakhstan, a gay model from Austria, and a dictator from the Middle East. In fact, in an appearance on the red carpet at the Oscars four years ago, Baron Cohen dressed as his character from The Dictator and in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Sacha famously dumped an urn full of what he claimed were former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s ashes all over the American Idol host. Seacrest refused to interview Sacha Baron Cohen this year.
Producers at the Academy Awards must have been pleased when they saw Sacha Baron Cohen showing his serious side on the red carpet. As a presenter, Baron Cohen was told by the Academy to go on stage as himself, but that really wasn’t working for Sacha. In an interview with Good Morning Britian, Baron Cohen explained what the Academy told him before taking the stage with Olivia Wilde.
“The Oscars sat me down beforehand and said they didn’t want me to do anything out of order, they wanted me to actually just present it as myself.”
Yeah, that didn’t happen. Sacha continued.
“But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets and I managed to get away with it.”
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher spent 40 minutes in the bathroom of the Dolby Theatre applying the beard and putting on the Ali G outfit on. As Baron Cohen got ready, Fisher was also in charge of explaining to others why Sacha was in the bathroom for so long, telling other attendees that he had food poisoning. Obviously, this wasn’t the case. Admittedly nervous about the stunt, Baron Cohen knew things would run smoothly after receiving some last-minute support.
“I actually bumped into Chris Rock on the way on and pitched him the gag. He gave me the thumbs-up, so I went for it.”
And go for it Sacha did. Baron Cohen shocked the A-list crowd as he called himself “just another token black presenter” and expressed sympathy for his “bredren,” obviously making light of the lack of diversity in this year’s acting categories.
“I is here representing all of them that’s been overlooked. Will Smith, Idris Elbow, and of course that amazing black bloke from Star Wars… Darth Vader.”
Despite shunning the Academy’s request, the stunt from Baron Cohen was actually received quite well in the media, which begs a question that may already be on the minds of many. Sacha Baron Cohen….2017 Oscars host?
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]