MTV News spoke with the legendary actor about his time working on the latest Baron Cohen flick and how a scene moved from the page to what we eventually see on the screen.
Though Baron Cohen films are known for their highly improvised nature, Kingsley recalled starting each scene from a substantial script and working from there. “We would shoot the scripted scene thoroughly, printable, useable,” Kingsley said. “Then Sacha, and very often the writers, the wonderful guys were on set, they would say, ’Can we shoot some alts (alternatives)?’ I was primed for that, and I was up for that. They were at least an equally pleasant part of the day shooting as the script was.”
Those alternative takes would come out of ideas occasionally thought up on the spot and spun from there. “We’d shoot our alts, and I see many of them on the screen. We’d have a version and then we would slightly flip the ending or slightly flip a line here or there,” Kingsley said.
In Kingsley’s opinion, this method of comedy was just a part of the systematic way Baron Cohen approaches his material. “Sacha does approach comedy scientifically. He doesn’t fool around on the set,” Kingsley said. “He’s very focused. He’s very committed to the film and the truths that are wrapped up in this great, amazing comedy experience are always intact.”
It’s those truths that make “The Dictator” something more than a summer comedy, a quality all of Baron Cohen’s films have shared.
“The dictatorship is always abhorrent. The dictator is usually a collection of prejudices and bigotry. They loathe democracy,” Kingsley said. “All of that is food for the enormous comedy feast that the film turns into, but it’s rooted in certain truths. You get them, or you don’t. What you do get is an amazing blockbuster, summer comedy, but then underneath that layer is a great political satire.”
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