Sacha Baron Cohen Relives Times He Went Too Far


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Actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen joins Jonathan on the sofa.

He reflects on some of the worst reactions his work has provoked.

In what ways has Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest character, Abbie Hoffman, differed from his previous characters, and how has he approached the task of depicting a real-life political figure on screen?

Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedian and actor known for his eccentric and controversial characters, who often push boundaries and challenge societal norms. He has been known to go too far with some of his jokes and pranks, leading to criticism from some and praise from others. In a recent interview, he shared some of his thoughts about those moments.

Cohen first gained fame for his character Ali G, a clueless and offensive rapper from the UK. The character often made jokes about race and gender, leading to accusations of racism and misogyny. Cohen defended the character as a satire of stereotypes and ignorance, but he admitted that he sometimes went too far.

“I look back on those moments now and cringe a bit,” he said. “But at the time, I felt like I was exposing the absurdity of prejudice and challenging people’s assumptions.”

Cohen’s most memorable character is probably Borat, a journalist from Kazakhstan who travels to America and interacts with ordinary people. The character was a huge success, but also caused controversy for its depiction of Kazakh culture and its use of anti-Semitic humor.

Cohen admitted that he was “ignorant” about Kazakhstan before creating the character, and that he regrets some of the jokes he made about its people. However, he defended the character as a commentary on American culture and its treatment of immigrants.

“It was never meant to be a realistic depiction of Kazakhstan,” he said. “It was always about exposing the hypocrisy and prejudice of America.”

Cohen’s latest character is a political activist named Abbie Hoffman, who appears in the film “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Hoffman was a real-life member of the anti-war movement in the 1960s, and Cohen said he felt a responsibility to depict him accurately and respectfully.

“I knew that this was a different kind of character than I’ve played before,” he said. “It wasn’t about shocking people or making them uncomfortable. It was about honoring someone who had a real impact on the world.”

Cohen acknowledged that his humor and satire are not for everyone, and that he sometimes crosses lines that others are not comfortable with. But he said that he believes in the power of laughter to challenge authority and promote understanding.

“I know that I’ve made mistakes in the past,” he said. “But I also know that humor can break down barriers and bring people together. And that’s what I’m always striving for.”

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