Sacha Baron Cohen

Leterrier-Cohen

Director Louis Leterrier and writer/actor Sacha Baron Cohen are two men who have made very different films and whose careers have taken very different paths, but nonetheless their individual journeys have led them both to a crossroads that is seeing them team up to do a movie together. The news comes from Variety, who reports that Leterrier has signed on to direct an action-comedy about a secret agent that Cohen and Phil Johnston sold as a pitch to Paramount last August. The film is called Grimsby, and it’s said to be about a black ops agent who is forced to go on the lam alongside his long lost brother, who happens to be a rowdy soccer hooligan from the north of England (one has to wonder which role was written for Cohen). In order to understand why this pairing could be crucial in deciding where Leterrier and Cohen’s careers go from this point forward, one must first take a look at where they’ve been.

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talladega nights 16

With Rush out in theaters, we wanted to revisit another racing classic of two bitter rivals whose competition drove them to not only be better drivers but also better people. That’s right, we are talking about Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which sees the title character (Will Ferrell) face many obstacles on his quest to prove he is the best race car driver in NASCAR all while being pitted against his polar opposite, French driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Coehn). Where Ricky is sponsored by Wonder Bread, Jean is sponsored by Perrier. Ricky is married to “stone cold fox” Carley (Leslie Bibb) while Jean is married to world-class German Shepherd trainer Gregory (Andy Richter). But the major difference between these two drivers is Ricky truly loves to race whereas Jean is starting to find himself drawn to other pursuits — you know, things like training Komodo dragons in Sri Lanka and teaching them to perform Hamlet. Talladega Nights is classic Ferrell taking on a caricature of not only NASCAR drivers but also the world that, uh, drives this sport. Neither Ricky Bobby nor Talladega Nights ever hesitate to dive head first into stereotypes, but it also immediately takes the wind out of those ideas without coming across as preaching. Ferrell leads the charge, but the entire cast is hilarious and prove that no one in the film is just there as set dressing. Everyone has a punch line to deliver. Join us as we look at ten of our favorite scenes from the movie below.

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ITV ARCHIVE

Update: The Wrap has now reported on this story and said that they have their own sources who claim that The Daily Star’s sources are bunk. According to them, producers on the project have yet to even gauge Radcliffe’s interest in taking the role, and the reports that he’s been offered it are, as of now, false. Due to the bushy stache and impressive welcome mat of body hair Sacha Baron Cohen became known for showing off whenever he was playing his Bruno character, there was never really any question as to whether or not he could look the part while playing Freddie Mercury in a biopic of the legendary Queen frontman. Given the fact that he’s best known for playing broadly comedic characters, there was always a question as to whether or not he could play the role in a serious movie and not have it come off like a comedy skit though. Either way, whether or not Cohen is right for the part of Mercury is now a moot point, because creative differences he has with the film’s producers over its script (which is being penned by Frost/Nixon’s Peter Morgan) have forced him to drop out of the project altogether. Reportedly, Cohen felt that some of the other forces helping to steer the project were going too far in glossing over Mercury’s flamboyant lifestyle. According to a report from The Daily Star, the people behind the Mercury biopic have now offered the role to another actor, but he’s […]

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Queen Singer Freddie Mercury

You know that gritty, soul-searching Freddie Mercury biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen that you wanted? It’s not going to happen. According to Deadline Hollywood, Cohen has left the project due to creative differences with Queen, and while that’s normally code for Any Number Of Other Reasons, it sounds like this time the differences were legitimate. Instead of wanting a real movie that dug into R-rating territory (for an iconic musician whose life was certainly not PG), the band was more interested in the Mickey Mouse version of the story. Cohen also brought in heavy hitters like Peter Morgan, David Fincher and Tom Hooper to work on the film, but the band (who had creative control) wouldn’t approve them. Because they’re the last people you want working on your friend’s life story, right? Without Cohen on board, Hooper is out as well. This is a shame. In a studio situation where it’s hard enough to get mature movies made, even when they are essentially recipes for Oscar gold, it’s doubly difficult to see something brought down by the very people who should have a vested interest in telling the most compelling story possible. The funny/tragic thing is that even if Queen wants a PG-rating for their bandmate’s story, as soon as Mercury kisses a dude, the MPAA will probably slap it with an NC-17 anyway. So even though we all know what the lyrics say, the only question that matters now is whether the show will go on.

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Klown Movie

Klown from Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam is a special kind of demented. It’s the kind of comedy that could make perverts clutch their pearls in disgust, so it’s not surprising that it caught the eye of Sacha Baron Cohen. According to Variety, Borat himself traveled to Denmark to secure the pair’s commitment to his new project at Paramount. They agreed, so before they develop a sequel to their hit, they’ll be writing the script for The Lesbian, a story born from the real-world oddity where a Chinese billionaire offered $65m to any man who could successfully marry his lesbian daughter. Joyously bizarre. Two Danes are writing a head-scratcher inspired by a wealthy man from Hong Kong for a British actor who rose to fame playing a fake Kazakhstani. It’s “The Taming of the Shrew” for our global, modern times. Shakespeare would love this.

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 4.53.07 PM

There is a lot of buzz about the live singing on the set Les Misérables. All of the actors sang as the cameras rolled rather than recording in a studio first, and that’s a great accomplishment since many of the actors have wonderful singing voices and don’t exactly need autotuning. This live singing in combination with the film’s grand scope – finally, a film of the legendary Boublil/Schönberg musical! – is supposed to make this a great film. But, very sadly, it does not. While the film is filled with a lot of great talent and certainly is watchable, it buckles under the often mind-blowingly heavy-handed direction by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and never becomes the epic piece of cinema that it so clearly set out to be. The story is fairly common knowledge (and quite involved), but Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is finishing up his prison sentence for breaking into a house and stealing a loaf of bread. He thinks he is free, but because of being on a stringent parole at the hand of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) he cannot get employment after his sentence is over. Valjean vows to make another go of it and when we find him years later, he is living under an assumed identity as the mayor of a small town. Valjean pays his good fortune forward when he helps factory worker-come-prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway). After Fantine’s death, he bails her young daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen) out of an abusive boarding house […]

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Les Miserables

Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper took the easy road with his follow-up feature to his Oscar-winning The King’s Speech. While Hooper’s decision to again tackle a period piece with a new film version of an already often-adapted piece of work might have seemed simple when it was first announced, Hooper’s inspired idea to make his Les Miserables as close to an actual stage production as possible is anything but safe or expected. With Hooper making the bold decision to use “live” singing from his cast (not going the more traditional route of lip-syncing and recording tracks in post-production), his version of Les Miserables places quite the premium on getting truly great musical performances out of its stars. Which is why it might be confusing to many a moviegoer that the cast of Hooper’s Les Mis is rounded out by big name movie stars that most people wouldn’t necessarily associate with the Great White Way. But Hooper knew exactly what he was doing when he cast such stars as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathway, and Amanda Seyfried in his film, because while the cast of Les Miserables is rife with well-known acting talent, it’s also filled to the brim with exceptional (and, in most cases, exceptionally trained) songbirds. Not sold on the dulcet tones and vocal stylings of this new Les Mis cast? Let’s take a look at their singing backgrounds.

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Culture Warrior

Will Ferrell is a funny man. This seems to be a fact undeniable even to those who don’t otherwise care for his brand of comedy. Even though his schtick has become reliably familiar – he often plays variations of an over-privileged adult child who is hopelessly naïve in certain categories of social life and prone to random bursts of livid anger – its regularity has yet to prevent Ferrell’s comic talents from growing stale. There seems to also be some indescribable aura at the core of Ferrell’s comic talent, something about his appearance and demeanor that can’t be explained through analyses of timing and punchline, as evidenced by his strange appearance on Jimmy Fallon last May. For many, Ferrell’s comic appeal has been this essential, indescribably funny core since his SNL days. Ferrell is funny not exclusively because of his physical comedy or imitable characters; he, as a force of nature, is pure farce (a farce of nature?). But as his film career continues to accumulate titles and as his unique comic sensibilities become better-known with his roles as producer and writer, it’s clear that, beneath his farce, Ferrell has a confrontational political and satirical streak underlying much of his work, which has naturally led to him portraying a politician in Jay Roach’s The Campaign. Ferrell’s roles, however, often exercise a fascinating and occasionally self-defeating tension between satire and farce, with one element substituting, rather than laying the groundwork for, the other. Here’s an overview of the politics of Will […]

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In the grand tradition of movie-making teams like Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, Keenen Ivory Wayans and his entire family, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (okay, maybe not those last two), comes a new duo of creative types hoping to make a mint and produce laughter by spoofing the works of others, Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston. THR reports that the duo has just sold a pitch to Paramount that will see them making a spy comedy in the vein of a silly James Bond. Think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character, but less…something, and more…I don’t know. Okay, so just think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character. According to sources at the studio, this still untitled comedy will tell the story of a spy who “is forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother, a moronic soccer hooligan.” Six years ago Cohen was coming off of his hit series Da Ali G Show and its subversive and successful feature film spin-off Borat, and he seemed like he was pretty much the most vital and progressive comedian working in films. But since then his career has taken a huge downswing because of disappointments like Brüno and his recent mess of a movie The Dictator. I guess the big question here is, given Cohen’s sudden downturn in quality output, is there any reason why we should be excited for him doing a spoof of spy movies?

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Les Miserables Anne Hathaway Shaved

Most trailers are anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes, but very few pack as much grandiose power as the new teaser for Les Miserables manages in just a minute and a half. To be fair, director Tom Hooper is utilizing time-honored music that swells and soars, but there’s also a power in the shots, the set design, and in Anne Hathaway‘s voice as she laments the death of a dream. With a shaved head. The scale looks nasty, brutish and epic. Check it out for yourself:

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Sacha Baron Cohen is a bit of an odd duck. An understatement, true, but he’s an outlier as a lead in studio comedies because thus far, instead of receiving a script and playing a character, he’s been making features based on characters created for his short lived HBO show. From the appropriately titled Da Ali G Show, Baron Cohen’s alter egos Borat and Bruno sprang forth assaulting the minds, eyes and morals of moviegoers the world over in what were essentially feature-length sketch shows more so than films (though Borat does get extra credit for the Pam Anderson narrative thread). Cohen’s new studio comedy, The Dictator, represents a departure from his norm and thus a challenge. Despite his involvement in the writing process, this wasn’t a persona he was used to slipping in and out of for years. Moreover, this would supposedly be a film with a narrative, filled with Cohen’s trademark humor for sure, but an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. All that remained to be seen was whether or not Cohen could pull that off.

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Culture Warrior

Tomorrow, the Sacha Baron Cohen-starring, Larry Charles-directed The Dictator opens. Unlike the previous two docu-prank collaborations between Charles and Cohen, the humor of the fully staged Dictator doesn’t so much rely on the reactions of ‘real people’ to an idiosyncratic foreigner as it uses its fish-out-of-water arc to chronicle the pseudo-enlightened changes that its eponymous character experiences (this is all based on the film’s advertising – I have yet to see it). With its riches-to-rags narrative, The Dictator seems to be the newest iteration of a long tradition in Hollywood comedy: the story of the redeemable asshole. It’s rather appropriate that the teaser trailer for Anchorman 2 will be premiering in front of The Dictator.  Will Ferrell has made the redeemable asshole into something of an art form in his collaborations with Adam McKay. Ferrell’s often narcissistic, privileged, ignorant, and empathy-challenged creations should, by any measure of any other genre (audiences are far less tolerant of asshole protags in, say, dramedys) be reviled by audiences. But we ultimately find something redeemable, even lovable, in Ferrell’s jerks, even if this surface-level redemption overshadows the fact that they never quite achieve the level of self-awareness that would actually redeem one from assholedom. These are characters we would likely avoid in nearly any real-life circumstance, but yet we go see movies about them learning life lessons which add up to little more than common knowledge for the rest of us. The redeemable asshole is often a white male who is conniving, manipulative, entitled, […]

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Right from its very beginning, Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming spaghetti Western wannabe Django Unchained was a project whose casting rumors involved far more actors than could have actually been included in its cast. In addition to names being thrown around that just turned out to be wishful thinking, actors like Jonah Hill and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were said to be close to taking roles in the film, but ultimately never signed up due to scheduling conflicts. Even Kevin Costner, who had signed on to play the role of Ace Woody, eventually had to be replaced by Kurt Russell because of scheduling issues. What’s the deal with all of these scheduling issues? What does Tarantino have going on out there in the desert? There may be no hard and fast answers to that question coming, but what is clear is that, even though shooting on the film has commenced, two more names have now dropped out of the cast. The Film Stage brought to our attention that, during an appearance on Howard Stern, Sacha Baron Cohen announced that he wouldn’t be able to make his planned appearance in the film due to promotional commitments for The Dictator. Soon after, Variety’s Jeff Sneider broke the news on Twitter that Kurt Russell had also left the cast.

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Even when the studio flies you up and puts you in a nice hotel, movie press conferences are usually incredibly dull. They largely consist of general questions and meaningless answers. If you’re lucky/unlucky, the foreign press will be there punctuating the conversation about story structure with inquiries into what color underwear stars are wearing or who they’re currently bedding. So, it’s all pretty boring. Unless it’s performance art. Enter Sacha Baron Cohen. Instead of appearing to answer bland questions about The Dictator, he arrived in character with a host of female body guards and proceeded to make brashly anti-semetic statements, call for fairer treatment of dictators, and to take at least one planted question about how glorious and wise he is. The fine folks at IndieWire got his introduction on video. It’s not monumental, but history has been made. Minutes into the press conference, almost no one in the crowd looks asleep.  

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If you’ve seen any of the other trailers for Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming comedy, The Dictator, then you already know what it’s all about. It mocks the absurdity of modern dictatorships, the ignorance of American jingoism, the douchiness of New York hipsters – and somehow it seems like it’s still going to tell a riches to rags story of personal growth and redemption. But to really get an idea of how far Cohen is going to be willing to go with his comedy, you have to take a look at the film’s newest red band trailer…

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Finally, readers, the summer movie season is upon us. So far this year has been solid, but sorely lacking in mega-blockbusters. John Carter did not deliver for the fifteen people who saw it and The Hunger Games, as successful and good as it was, wasn’t an epic actioner or packed with real spectacle. Yet there’s much promise in the action department for the summer of 2012, and it’s starting off just right, with something we’ve all been anticipating. Hopefully the rest of the summer will follow that film’s mighty lead…

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has basically made it their business to look like a bunch of boring old fuddy-duddies. Not only did their nominations this year fail to recognize some of the year’s best and most progressive examples of filmmaking, like Drive, Take Shelter, and Shame, but they’ve also seemed to do everything in their power to make sure that nothing fun or new happens at the ceremony itself. The members of the Academy have gotten a lot of criticism lately for being made up mostly of out of touch, old white men, and with every decision that they make those claims appear to be more and more valid. It’s to the point where it seems like old white people aren’t just the only ones allowed to join their club, but they’re also the only ones they want watching their telecast. Already this year they made the Internet mad by refusing to hear their pleas to let the Muppets host instead of going with their safe, usual choice of Billy Crystal. And most recently they’ve raised everyone’s Muppet ires once again by announcing that—despite the fact they were nominated for the original song “Man or Muppet” - nobody would actually be performing the nominated songs during this year’s ceremony, so a Muppet performance was out of the question. I mean, come on, who could be so cold-hearted that they refuse the Muppets twice? The latest victim of their old man grumbling is apparently Sacha Baron Cohen. There […]

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On the heels of the news that director Tom Hooper will likely make the cast of his upcoming Les Miserables adaptation sing “live” on camera (versus inserting vocals after they’ve been polished up in a traditional recording studio), comes news that The King’s Speech helmer may have two other vocal talents to add to his production. Twitch reports, thanks to two different exclusive scoops, that offers are out to Amanda Seyfried and Taylor Swift for a pair of key parts (and both angles on a looooove triangle!). Seyfried (who actually has a background in opera, fun trivia!) has been offered the essential role of Cosette. Cosette is the daughter of Anne Hathaway‘s Fantine (yes, Hathaway is just three years older than Seyfried), the ruined and tragic prostitute. Fantine gives baby Cosette to the rich Thénardiers, thinking they will care for her, though they mistreat her until she is eventually saved by adoptive papa Jean Valjean. And just why do the Thénardiers abuse her? Well, they’re really evil, and they’re also busy lavishing treats on their real daughters, including eldest Eponine. Swift has reportedly been offered the role of Eponine, rich girl turned street urchin. Both Cosette and Eponine are in love with second-generation baron Marius Pontmercy (to be played by Eddie Redmayne) in Victor Hugo’s classic story. The addition of Seyfried is a bit of a no-brainer, she’s well on her way to an established film career (despite some missteps like Red Riding Hood and Dear John), and her actual background in and talent for […]

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Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper doesn’t make some interesting choices when it comes to filming his projects for maximum veracity. His Oscar-winning hit The King’s Speech was shot on a former porno set (grit!), he used Colonial Williamsburg for a number of sets for his John Adams (gritty, in a different way!), and now it looks like he’s going full-hilt on his first musical feature. Hooper’s next film is a full-scale musical feature version of the done-to-starving-death Les Miserables, and while a new take on Victor Hugo’s classic material doesn’t strike most people as necessary, Hooper is going to give the project its own spin to liven it up. No, no, he’s not going to make it some sort of bizarre “reimagining,” he’s going to make its stars actually sing. No, no, it’s much more interesting than that – he’s going to make them sing live. A “source close to the production” has told the Sun UK that “the director is determined to make the project as authentic as possible.” As such, “the cast will record their vocals live on camera rather than go into a studio first then mime on film to the pre-recorded vocal…First they have to learn the complex songs, then they’ll have to get it right on set in front of the other stars and crew.” This does provide a look inside Hooper’s vision for the film, which may be much more classically theatrical than first suspected. Hooper has already lined up […]

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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