The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to headlines about industry uncertainty by swinging the conversation back to the creative ambitions, formative influences, and inspirations of some of today’s great screen artists.
Every installment asks the same five questions. Today’s subject is Sacha Baron Cohen, the multi-hyphenate artist who is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and in the Best Supporting Actor category for portraying Abbie Hoffman in The Trial of the Chicago 7. The two films perfectly showcase Baron Cohen’s versatility that makes him unique. He can turn in strong dramatic and comedic acting performances in scripted fare — that list includes Talladega Nights, Les Miserables, Hugo, Sweeney Todd and the Netflix miniseries The Spy. He can also disappear into character creations who interact with real people in documentary-style settings, where only he and his crew are aware they (sometimes at great danger to him) create subversive and hilarious comedy by allowing his unwitting scene partners to reveal their true selves, for good and for bad. Baron Cohen has done that now in two celebrated Borat films, Bruno, and on TV side with Da Ali G Show and the 2018 Showtime series Who Is America, for which he created and performed five distinctively separate characters. Here Baron Cohen explains the formative influences that helped him inform his singular voice as an actor and creator.