No one knows better than Sacha Baron Cohen how to use controversy to milk publicity for his outrageous films.
The actor’s feud with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences escalated on Friday after Baron Cohen – dressed as His Excellency Admiral General Aladeen – posted a video on the website for his film, The Dictator, lambasting the academy for refusing to let him walk the red carpet in character as a crazy North African-inflected ruler.
“On behalf of the nation of Wadiya, I am outraged at being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Zionists,” Baron Cohen says in the clip. “While I applaud the academy for taking away my right to free speech, I warn you that if you do not lift your sanctions and give me my tickets back by 12 p.m. on Sunday, you will face unimaginable consequences.”
Various websites reported Friday that the academy pulled his tickets to the ceremony. However, by press time organizers denied this, saying the Borat star can come, but he can’t walk the red carpet as his latest alter ego.
In the video, Baron Cohen castigates the academy for not honouring some of his country’s classic films, such as When Harry Kidnapped Sally, You’ve Got Mail Bomb and Planet of the Rapes. But he thanked them for leaving his calendar as “empty as a North Korean grocery store.”
He then adds he will not be deterred from attending Hollywood producer Brett Ratner’s after-party “because it’s impossible to get herpes twice.”
The star has a history of crashing high-profile media events to flog his movies, including his 2009 stunt at the MTV Movie Awards, where he flew above the crowd dressed as the gay Austrian fashionista Bruno.
Baron Cohen ends the clip saying, “Death to the west, death to America, and good luck [nine-time Oscar host]Billy Crystals.”