Sacha Baron Cohen’s revival of his Ali G persona was one of the most surprising moments of Sunday’s Oscars broadcast. Apparently, it was surprise to Oscar producers as well. Baron Cohen told Good Morning Britain that he had been specifically instructed not to show up in character.
“The Oscars sat me down beforehand and said they didn’t want me to do anything out of order,” Baron Cohen said. “They actually wanted me to present as myself. But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets, and we managed to get away with it.”
That’s right: Baron Cohen hid out in the bathroom for 40 minutes to change into his Ali G getup, while his wife Isla Fisher told others he was sick with food poisoning. Cohen said he was nervous about how the gag would play (especially his line about being “just another token black presenter”), but he did receive some important last-minute support.
“I actually bumped into Chris Rock on the way on and pitched him the gag,” Baron Cohen said. “He gave me the thumbs-up, so I went for it.”
Oscar organizers had reason to suspect Baron Cohen might be up to something. Back in 2012, Baron Cohen attended the Oscars in the guise of his Dictator character and made a scene by emptying an urn of what he claimed were the ashes of Kim Jong-Il all over Ryan Seacrest.