All three of Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical comic creations — the gay Austrian fashionista Brüno, the anti-Semitic Kazakhstani journalist Borat and the clueless hip-hop culture maven Ali G — have now gracelessly graced the big screen. “Ali G Indahouse” actually never made it into U.S. theaters but did enjoy a run in the U.K. In 2006, “Borat” appeared almost out of nowhere to become a box-office smash, eventually taking in almost $130 million domestically. And, over the weekend, “Brüno” earned more than $30 million in ticket sales.
With his three well-known characters seemingly exhausted — and a box-office track record that might give him something close to carte blanche with movie studios — where does Cohen go from here? Here’s some wild speculation about avenues he might try to explore. (Plus, check out some fan ideas for Sacha Baron Cohen’s next move, on the Movies Blog.)
A Fourth Wacked-Out Journalist
Who knows? Cohen could have a fourth character in the works. After “Borat,” there were those who assumed “Brüno” would never be able to pull off such ridiculous feats. But if anything, “Brüno” is more outrageous than “Borat.” No doubt, Cohen and his mischievous team could make a fourth movie work. Of course, Cohen has spoken of the exhausting nature of such undercover film work. He might start looking for a more conventional, show-up-on-set-and-shoot Hollywood experience.
The Oscar Darling
“Brüno” is a satirical adventure that likely won’t be winning any of its participants acting plaudits come Academy Award season. But there is one scene in the movie — when Brüno loses custody of his adopted child and breaks down hysterically in tears — that is genuinely, surprisingly touching. Cohen has impressive acting chops — how else doesn’t he crack up during his absurd exchanges with his unwitting interview subjects? — and he could choose to pursue serious movie roles. Comic actors like Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey have made similar career decisions in the past, so what would stop Cohen from doing the same?
The Sketch Comedy Show
Ever since Dave Chappelle bailed on his Comedy Central show in 2005, the small screen has been missing a wildly creative comic chameleon who can deliver raunchy and provocative laughs once a week. “Saturday Night Live” might have experienced a resurgence during the presidential campaign, but “SNL” hasn’t been boundary-pushing for a couple of decades. Yet Cohen has traveled a similar road before — in the U.S. and the U.K. — with “Da Ali G Show.” Would he recycle his old characters? Create an entirely new group? Have any interest in exploring this format again? After the phenomenon of “The Office,” Ricky Gervais returned to TV with “Extras” and didn’t disappoint anyone. For the comically gifted, there’s no problem in revisiting familiar territory if you’re still making people laugh.
A Music Career
Back in 2007, rumors floated around that Cohen was being considered to portray Queen’s Freddie Mercury in a big-screen biopic. While MTV News discovered that this was just idle speculation , Cohen can no doubt sing: He appeared in Tim Burton’s musical “Sweeney Todd.” If Cohen wanted to, he could create an entirely new musical persona, record an album and go out on the road. Maybe even shoot a faux-documentary about the whole experience. If Joaquin Phoenix might be attempting something similar , why can’t Cohen?
Check out everything we’ve got on “Brüno.”
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