It was a big day yesterday for Sacha Baron Cohen as he reached the big 5-0. His wife Isla Fisher shared a post on Instagram of the pair in matching striped tops. It was all rather sweet.
For three decades now, he’s been entertaining audiences with his iconic satirical characters; for a time in the 2000’s, there was no bigger comedian in the world.
In 2013, Baron Cohen received the BAFTA Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy, summing up his legacy. With the star recently spotted performing some stand-up shows in Perth, we can hope that he still has plenty of years in comedy left.
To mark his birthday milestone, we thought we’d take a look at some of Baron Cohen’s best roles and – as you probably deduced from the headline – Borat isn’t included: like every time I tried to bake during this Melbourne lockdown, it’s been overdone.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Baron Cohen seemed like a strange choice for an Aaron Sorkin historical legal drama at first but he provided an alluring energy to his role as Abbie Hoffman, the founding member of the Youth International Party.
With manic hair reminiscent of Sideshow Bob, the star’s passion for the role shone through, effortlessly losing himself in the dramatic role while still retaining his comic sensibility.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The utterly ridiculous Will Ferrell/Adam McKay caper perfectly suited Baron Cohen. As Ricky Bobby’s charismatic race car driver rival Jean Girard, he was outlandish, elegant, fascinating, and silly. The excellent sports comedy just wouldn’t be as memorable without Baron Cohen.
The big-screen adaptation of the beloved musical was quite the mixed bag. I’m sure you still shiver like I do whenever you remember Russell Crowe’s attempts at singing. The film livened up whenever Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were onscreen as the awful Thénardiers though.
The pair were electric together, carrying the singing parts strongly while provoking some much-needed energy to the staid proceedings. They were almost so good you almost forgot they were child abusers.
Baron Cohen absolutely laying into David and Victoria Beckham in 2001 – when the pair were the biggest celebrity couple in the world – as Ali G is a masterclass in cringe comedy.
The jokes are biting without being nasty; he annihilates the pair while always including them in the fun. Ali G asking Victoria, “do you wish for Brooklyn to grow up and be a footballer like his dad, or a singer like…Mariah Carey,” for her to retort with, “I’d like to grow up to be a singer like Mariah Carey”, is testament to this.
The satirical chav character also took on the likes of Donald Trump and Buzz Aldrin, there was nothing funnier in a British school in the early noughties than a killer Ali G impression.
Showcasing his vocal abilities in the animation series, Baron Cohen was hilarious as King Julien. In a cast bursting with talent (Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer), he still managed to steal the show, even spawning the hit song ‘I Like to Move It’, which was inescapable in summer 2005.