All week long, people were wondering if Sacha Baron Cohen would walk the Oscars’s red carpet in character from his upcoming film, The Dictator — and boy, did he.
When word leaked out the comedian was planning a stunt, reports emerged that the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences had banned Cohen, who had tickets to attend the show for his part in the film, Hugo. Oscar may love a show, but he does not approve of self-promotion.
A spokesperson for the Academy then clarified they hadn’t banned Cohen, they were just waiting to see what he planned to do.
The answer came when Cohen, dressed as General Aladeen, the fictional despot he plays in the upcoming comedy, strode on to the red carpet holding a golden urn with an image of former North Korea leader Kim Jong Il’s face on it.
He approached E! network’s Ryan Seacrest, who had been busy interviewing one celebrity after another in the sort of pat interviews we’ve come to expect of the red carpet.
“Ryan, hello! Death to the West!” said Cohen/Aladeen in a happy tone.
Cohen told Seacrest he was wearing John Galliano, except his socks were from Kmart.
“As Sadaam Hussein once said to me, ‘Socks are socks, don’t waste money,’” Cohen said.
Seacrest seemed happy enough to go along with the gag, asking the dictator about what it was like to attend Hollywood’s biggest night.
He told Seacrest it gave him the opportunity to bring his “dear friend and doubles tennis partner” Kim Jong Il, adding: “It was his dream to come to the Oscars and be sprinkled over the red carpet and Halle Berry’s chest again.”
Then — oops! — the dictator stumbled, spilling the urn’s ashes all over the front of Seacrest’s tux.
A swarm of beefy security guards moved in and ushered Cohen away. The comedian was not seen again for the remainder of the evening.
But it didn’t matter. His stunt will surely prove to be the one thing people are talking about after what proved on the whole to be a dry and predictable awards show.
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