Sacha Baron Cohen reveals why Borat is like Donald Trump
Sacha Baron Cohen has taken a sledge at Donald Trump, revealing why he thinks Borat is the extreme version of the US President.
Back in 2006, no one was safe from the ultimate prankster – from residents of smalltown USA to leading political figures such as Bernie Sanders and Dick Cheney, who all fell prey to the comic’s antics.
Fast forward to 2020, and Borat the film’s tried-and-true style of ambush comedy has again stunned America and the world with its irreverence – claiming even more famous scalps for its sequel (entitled, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan).
It’s no coincidence that Borat’s arguably best moment in his second film involves President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, who has been forced to defend a ‘gotcha’ moment where he was caught in a hotel sting, staged by the film.
“The first movie was more about exposing this unpleasant and ugly underbelly of America,” Cohen tells The BINGE Guide, who has a palpable degree of disbelief in his tone.
“This time around I realised that underbelly that had been exposed, its overt opinions we put on screen back in 2006, are now being espoused by the President of America.”
Of course, Borat himself has often been accused of racism, sexism, and misogyny, attributes often associated with that other polarising figure, as Cohen explains.
“Borat is a slightly more extreme version of Trump. They are both misogynistic, they are both racist, they both support anti-Semites, and they both cannot care less about democracy.”
In this sequel, we rediscover Borat as a celebrity in his home country of Kazakhstan, and the father to several children.
One son has changed his name to Jeffrey Epstein, after the late disgraced financier who took his own life behind bars last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
His daughter, meanwhile, who likes to be referred to as Sandra Jessica Parker Sagidiyev (Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova), journeys with her father to the United States as a special “sexy” gift to Vice President Mike Pence from the Kazakh government.
Controversial from beginning to end, and best not ruined here by too many details, the film’s high (or low) point is indeed a tryst involving Guiliani.
In the scene, about which much ado has been made, Borat’s 24-year-old daughter pretends to interview the former New York mayor in his hotel suite.
After the interview concludes, reporter and subject move into the bedroom, where we see Guiliani laying on the bed with his hand in his pants.
Not surprisingly, Guiliani denied any wrongdoing, calling the set-up “a hit job.”
Responding to Guiliani’s claims there was nothing inappropriate about his behaviour, Cohen smirks only slightly in explaining: “I think this is a fascinating window into what the Trump regime deems appropriate behaviour with women.”
Using the moment in its marketing, Borat used his Twitter account to “defend” Guiliani – and posting the message just prior to the final presidential debate between Trump and Joe Biden.
“What was an innocent sexy time encounter with a consenting man and my 15-year-old daughter has been turned into something disgusting by fake news media.”
He added: “I warn you, anyone else tries this and Rudolph will not hesitate to reach into his legal briefs and whip out his subpoenas.”
Certainly, Cohen’s chutzpah has soared to new levels for round two, and his infiltration of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) dressed as a Trump supporter, complete with a 54-inch fat suit and Trump head, is but one of many examples.
The actor admits even he was surprised at how easy the skits came off.
“During some of the scenes my heart would start thumping. In fact, on one of the first days of filming, it was at the Richmond Gun Rally (in the Virginia state capital), there had been a threat that had been uncovered by a white supremacist group to conduct a mass shooting at the rally. The FBI had foiled it, but I was going into a situation where I’d be wearing a T-shirt that was not fully supportive of the National Rifle Association, and as a result, it was the first time in my career I donned a bulletproof vest, which I wore for two of the scenes.
“I’ve never done that before,” he says, shaking his head. “But there were so many semi-automatics that were present, even if somebody wasn’t actively trying to hurt me, you could get hurt accidentally by a stray bullet.”
Career-wise, Cohen’s risk-taking of late has paid off in spades, earning plaudits last year for his serious portrayal of Israel’s top Mossad spy, Eli Cohen, in the Netflix series The Spy.
Last month he scooped up stellar reviews for his outlandish, curly-wigged portrayal of activist Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7 [also on Netflix].
The 49-year-old father of three, whose wife of 10 years is Aussie favourite, Isla Fisher, is undecided about that state of the USA right now and post-election.
“Firstly, I’m a comedian, I’m an actor, I’m not a philosopher, I’m not an academic. I wish that as a society we would listen more to the academics and the experts rather than the demagogues. So I’m always reluctant as someone who’s had some fame to espouse any views. I do think we’re about to experience an increasingly difficult time as more and more people die from coronavirus, and a lot of that obviously is due to politicians refusing to listen to experts,” he offers.
“So, will any good come out of this awful period that has beset humanity? I hope so but there will be so much suffering and so much death that it’s hard to be positive about it.”
* Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, streaming now on Amazon Prime