Sacha Baron Cohen, 49, confirmed to Entertainment Tonight Tuesday that he’s retiring his controversial character Borat Sagdiyev – again – because “it got too dangerous.”
“There were a couple of times I had to put on a bulletproof vest to go and shoot a scene, and you don’t want to do that too many times in your life,” Cohen said while promoting his latest Netflix film, “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” “I was pretty lucky to get out this time, so no, I’m not doing it again. I’m going to stay with the scripted stuff.”
Cohen played the chauvinistic Kazakh journalist in 2006’s “Borat” and revived the characterfor its 2020 sequel “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which is nominated for several Golden Globe Awards including best musical or comedy and a best actor nod for Cohen.
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Cohen said shooting the film’s highly volatile scenes wasn’t “very nice,” in the words of Borat’s signature catchphrase, including the controversial Rudy Giuliani scene where Trump’s lawyer was caught in a questionable situation with actress Maria Bakalova. He noted that a particular scene where Borat attended a March for Our Rights rally with armed protestors led to some anxiety.
“The night before something like that – that rally – you’re trying to go through everything that can go wrong,” he said. “In a normal scene…we’re trying to make sure, ‘How do I make sure my performance is real? Have I done my research? How do I make sure the accent’s perfect?’ In this one you’re going, ‘OK, if a bunch of guys with guns come from that side of the stage, have I got a way to get out? What happens if someone shoots me? What if a bunch of people start shooting me?'”
In addition to a bulletproof vest, Cohen said the production team also created “an amplifier that was basically bomb proof” for him in case of an emergency.
“The idea was the bulletproof vest would be able to take a couple of bullets, but if a bunch of people started shooting, I would jump behind this kind of big speaker,” he recalled. “I don’t want to do it again. I got away with it. I’m not pushing my luck again.”
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This is not the first time Cohen promised to hang up Borat’s standard gray suit and highlighter-green mankini for good.
In 2019, Cohen told USA TODAY that he’s “done with the undercover work,” nearly a year before the release of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
“It’s incredibly consuming in every aspect,” he said at the time. “It’s draining. It can be dangerous. It’s often unrewarding. You’re living a fairly miserable life. Obviously, when you produce good stuff, then it’s rewarding in the end. But the process itself is not fun.”
Cohen told Variety in January that he only “brought Borat out because of (former President Donald) Trump.”
“There was a purpose to this movie, and I don’t really see the purpose to doing it again,” Cohen said about a third film. “So yeah, he’s locked away in the cupboard.”
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, Andrea Mandell
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