Sacha Baron Cohen was born into a middle-class Jewish family,
the second of three sons of Gerald Baron Cohen and his wife
Daniella. Sacha Cohen's father, who owns a menswear shop in
Piccadilly, is originally from Wales, while his mother is of
Persian descent and was a native of Israel.
Baron Cohen attended Haberdashers' Aske's School, a public school in Elstree, and went on to study history at Christ's College, Cambridge.
In 1994 Channel 4 was planning a replacement for its series The Word and put out an open call for new presenters. Sacha sent in a tape of himself in the character of Kristo, a fictional television reporter from Albania (who later became Borat, from Kazakhstan), that caught the attention of one producer who kept him in mind. Baron Cohen marked time by working for a Swindon based television company.
Baron Cohen shot to fame when his character Ali G started appearing on The Eleven O'Clock Show on Channel 4. Da Ali G Show began in 2000 and won the BAFTA for best comedy series the next year. The show was taken to the United States in 2003, where it aired on HBO. Sacha Baron Cohen often fools guests to appear on his show by sending them letters with HBO's letterhead and type.
Sacha Baron Cohen has had some troubles because of the racist or prejudiced comments his characters make (see Da Ali G Show). HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer has replied to the criticisms in America with, "Through his alter-egos, he delivers an obvious satire that exposes people's ignorance and prejudice in much the same way All in the Family did years ago."
Other characters created by Baron Cohen include Borat, a television reporter from Kazakhstan with a fervent hatred of Jews, an extreme hatred of gypsies (Roma) and a misogynistic attitude. Cohen's third alter ego is Bruno, a gay Austrian fashion show presenter, who often lures his subjects into unwittingly making provocative statements and engaging in embarrassing behaviour, as well as leading them to contradict themselves, often in the same interview. This was once done by "Bruno" asking the subjects to answer the yes or no questions by saying either "Ach-Ja" for yes or "Nicht-Nicht" for no.
Notable interviews have included writer Gore Vidal, real estate mogul Donald Trump, politician Newt Gingrich, former UN Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and journalist Andy Rooney. He also is a supporter of Comic Relief, and for the charity he has done interviews (as Ali G) with, among others, footballer David Beckham and his wife Victoria.
Sacha Baron Cohen played the voice of King Julien the lemur in the 2005 animated movie, Madagascar (and is billed as first person in Madagascar II, which is expected to come out in 2008). He guest starred in the Season 5 finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm with Dustin Hoffman as a guide to Heaven. Sacha Baron Cohen has presented the MTV Europe Music Awards twice, first on November 8, 2001 in Frankfurt, Germany, as Ali G, and then on November 3, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal, as Borat. He also delivered the 2004 Class Day address at Harvard University as Ali G, the day before the commencement ceremony. Cohen will co-star as the racing rival to Will Ferrell in the upcoming Talladega Nights.
A major film 'Borat', which is based on the 'Ali-G Show' sketch, is in post production and to be released soon.
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