Sacha Baron Cohen has been the architect behind the provocative prank show “Who is America?” that has caught many political figures off-guard and with their foot in their mouths for being caught on camera saying outlandish things that landed them in the hot seat.
And believe it or not, Cohen’s clowning has earned his Showtime summer series, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor In A TV Comedy Or Musical, for his comical characters in the hysterical episodes.
Among those Cohen tricked have been OJ Simpson, Dick Cheney, Roy Moore and Sarah Palin. But he hasn’t been able to prank everybody on his hit list like HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
Cohen tells Deadline, that it was a close call for Carson who almost made it to his hot seat but was pulled after an official got suspicious. He explains:
“Yeah. I came very close to getting Dr. Ben Carson. We set up an interview with Dr. Ben Carson and we had a hotel room in the Mandarin Oriental in DC. I’d been living in DC, undercover, for about three weeks…And in the last couple of days, Ben Carson agrees to an interview,” Cohen explained.
Cohen, whose breakout hit movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kasakhstan, put him on the map for prank interviews with real people, said that Secret Service agents were crawling around the Mandarin Oriental on the day he was to meet Carson, who had his own detail of the operatives.
When he spoke to his lawyer, explaining that he had a fake identification card on him claiming to be a Finnish YouTube star, the attorney said that if he was found out, he’d be arrested. So he planned to drop the fake ID on the floor in front of one of Carson’s agents so they couldn’t say he tried to mislead the Secret Service.
But when Cohen he gets ready to do the interview with Carson in one of the hotel rooms set up, that’s when things go awry. The character Cohen is portraying happens to have a bunch of Shopkins collectible toys, apparently making a White House press representative suspicious.
“I go, it’s because that’s what I do, I unbox Shopkins. And I can see Ben Carson is literally walking in front of the camera,” Cohen continued. “He’s just about to enter frame and this guy from the White House had an instinct and he said, ‘Pull him.’ And suddenly the Secret Service pulled him out. So the most I got to see was Ben Carson’s leg.”
Carson dodged a bullet and it will always be a mystery how he would have answered Cohen’s loaded questions. Let’s not forget Baron Cohen captured Georgia state representative Jason Spencer on camera spewing the n-word multiple times, pulling his pants down to show his bare behind and even “eating” a faux penis of an imagined Middle Eastern terrorist. As a result, Spencer stepped down from office.