NEW YORK — Sacha Baron Cohen tells The Daily Telegraph that he’s retiring the clueless Kazakh journalist, as well as his alter ego, aspiring rapper Ali G.
Cohen created both personae as devices for improvised social satire, in which people he interacted with in interviews or casual encounters became his unsuspecting comic foils.
“When I was being Ali G and Borat I was in character sometimes 14 hours a day and I came to love them, so admitting I am never going to play them again is quite a sad thing,” the 36-year-old actor-comedian says in the British newspaper’s Friday edition.
“It is like saying goodbye to a loved one. It is hard, and the problem with success, although it’s fantastic, is that every new person who sees the Borat movie is one less person I ‘get’ with Borat again, so it’s a kind of self-defeating form, really.”
Baron Cohen brought Borat Sagdiyev — an anti-Semitic buffoon in search of Pamela Anderson — to the masses last year with his smash comedy, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” He first introduced the character on “Da Ali G Show,” which was carried in the U.S. on HBO.
“It’s much easier for me to be in character and it’s a lot more fun,” he says. “If I’d done the entire promotional campaign for (the ‘Borat’ movie) as myself it wouldn’t have developed in the same way.”
The Borat film was a box office smash that turned Cohen’s cluelessly offensive Central Asian character — complete with thick moustache, wild-eyed grin and boisterous catch phrases like “Very nice!” and “Sexy time!” — into a household name.
Video: 'Borat' learns about America The film benefited in part from publicity sparked by Kazakh officials protesting the unflattering portrait of their country as a backward nation of misogynists and anti-Semites.
Since creating Ali G and Borat, Cohan has rarely given interviews out of character. He said it was much easier for him like that — and more entertaining.
“I think it can get a little (bit) tiresome if you’re having to be the real person and talking about how important and interesting the role was,” he said.
Cohen is now finishing work on his next project in which he plays Bruno, a gay, Austrian fashion reporter who also was introduced on his TV program “Da Ali G Show.”
Baron Cohen — not Borat — can be seen as a singing barber in Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd,” co-starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
His spokesman, Matt Labov, did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages by The Associated Press seeking comment on the “deaths” of Borat and Ali G.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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