The next movie from progressive, freak-people -the-hell-out filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen will see him playing the deposed dictator of a Middle Eastern country who gets repeatedly horrified with his experiences during a trip to the United States. Larry Charles, the director of both Borat and Bruno, is returning to direct this Cohen joint as well, so you have to imagine that it will retain elements of that attacking an unsuspecting public with a controversial character gimmick that Cohen has relied on for laughs so far. But interacting with Midwestern intellectuals and coercing them into saying ridiculously racist and homophobic things doesn’t seem to be all that this one has to offer, if it goes in that direction at all. Charles and Cohen are looking to fill some key roles with seasoned, recognizable actors, so this may prove to be a much more tightly scripted story than anything we’ve yet seen from the duo.

While the hunt for the female lead is still ongoing (with Kristen Wiig, Anna Ferris, and Gillian Jacobs’s names being thrown around as front-runners), one of the other big roles of the film has been filled; and filled by an Oscar winner. Ben Kingsley has signed on to join Cohen and whoever the heck else in this satirical look at power-mad rulers. The details of the story are still unclear, but it is said that Kingsley will be playing one of two Middle Eastern characters. Even though he does some real crap every once in a while, Kingsley still has a pretty strong pedigree in the acting world, so it’s kind of surprising to hear that he’s going to be working on one of these shock projects with Cohen. The two have recently worked together on Scorcese’s upcoming Hugo Cabret though, so perhaps they formed a friendship there. Either way, the more I hear about this project, the less I’m sure of what it’s going to be. At this point that’s working in the film’s favor, because even though Bruno disappointed me, I’m still interested to see what Cohen has up his sleeve for us next. Hopefully it’s ridiculous and awesome. [Variety]

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