Sacha Baron Cohen Was First Choice To Host Oscars

'They thought it was too big of a wild card,' show producer Adam Shankman says of the Academy's decision.

“Brüno” might not have achieved “Avatar”-level box-office success, but star Sacha Baron Cohen was nearly put in charge of Hollywood’s biggest evening. The British funnyman was Oscar producers’ first choice to host the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, according to an ABC News report.

Speaking to National Public Radio’s Teri Gross on “Fresh Air,” show producer Adam Shankman revealed that when he and fellow producer Bill Mechanic met to decide on a host, both men agreed that Cohen was the right man for the gig.

“[T]he Academy swatted it down,” Shankman said. “They thought it was too big of a wild card.”

Following that rejected idea, Hugh Jackman was reportedly invited back to host the show after last year’s turn onstage, but the actor declined the opportunity. Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. also were rumored to have declined the chance to host the show. Ultimately, the hosting job went to the duo of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin .

Cohen certainly would have been a bold choice for the most mainstream of awards shows. The comedian infamously swung from the rafters half-naked and onto Eminem’s head during the MTV Movie Awards last year. Accepting a Golden Globe for “Borat” in 2007, Cohen said of making the film, “I saw some amazing, beautiful, invigorating parts of America. But I saw some dark parts of America, an ugly side of America — a side of America that rarely sees the light of day. I refer, of course, to the anus and testicles of my co-star, Ken Davitian.”