Sacha Baron Cohen might best be known for his characters like Borat or Bruno, although despite his over-the-top costumes, he still gets recognized.
“You are very popular and famous, and I would recognize you anywhere,” Don Cheadle asked Cohen during Variety‘s “Actors On Actors”. “Have you ever been busted?”
Cohen recalled while filming “Who Is America?” and his massive wig that didn’t do the job to conceal his identity. “The guy immediately looked at me and goes, ‘I know you.’ With recognition, it happens within the first second. There’s a part of the brain that recognizes the face,” Cohen said.
This was also the point when he realized he “had to do more extreme stuff.”
Famed makeup and special effects designer Tony Gardner was brought in. “I went to him: ‘Do you think you could create prosthetics good enough that they would exist in the real world? Because I can’t be touched for three hours.”
The process included waking up at 3:30 a.m on shoot days to create a new person, although Cohen never wanted to take the look “too far.”
“I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but I want to see people’s real thoughts. I’m provoking them sometimes to see the effect of this new political culture that we’re in,” he said.
It was with his new look and learning all about military background from an Israeli special-ops that allowed him to convince former VP Dick Cheney to sign a “waterboard kit.”
Cohen used some of the stories the special-ops told as his own during the interview. Cheney not only bought the stories, but he also signed the kit. “He knew about some of the operations,” Cohen says, “so he was convinced I was real.”