Sacha Baron Cohen


  1. Doug E Doug, Shark Tale, 2003. The UK comic was up for Bernie of Ernie and Bernie, the Jamaican jellyfish enforcers for Martin Scorsese’s pufferfish and, er, loan shark. Ernie was Ziggy Marley – perfect as their song derived from Three Little Birds by his father, Bob Marley.
  2. Max Minghella, Agora, Spain, 2008.  Oscar Isaac, Agora, Bulgaria-Malta-Spain, Spain, 2008.  Spanish auteur Alejandro Amenábar wanted Sacha Baron Cohen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as pupils of Rachel Weisz… as Hypatia, the remarkable astronomer, mathematician, philosopher and scientist in the Fourth Century Alexandria. SBC passed, calling the script “too prickly, and it would lift sores.” JRM followed. Rachel remained.
  3. Steve Carrel, Dinner For Schmucks, 2009.     The new UK comedy sensation  – creator of  Ali G, Borat, Bruno, etc –  was announced for the pathetic loser in 2006.  And quit as the casting swirled around  Steve Martin and Kevin Kline for the (as always, highly flawed) re-make of the French Diner de cons, 1998, writer-directed by Francis Veber.  Jacques Villeret was the original con.
  4. Jemaine Clement, Men In Black III, 2011.   After Borat and Brüno, SBC was up Boris.  Until script delays clashed with his latest outrageous satire, The Dictator.  His successor was half of New Zealand’s “folk comedy” duo, Flight of the Conchords.
  5. Woody Harrelson,  Now You See Me, 2012.      And now you don’t…  SBC and Jim Carrey (what a meeting that could have been) and suave Brits Colin Firth and Hugh Grant were among  the  – here’s a first – illusionist bank robbers! Until a fateful decision was made. Go younger! Only Mrs SBC, Isla Fisher, escaped the axe.
  6.  Jim Carrey, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 2012.   Another B title. But this one was not to B… (Well, Cohen didn’t create him).  Wonderstone is a jaded magician losing ground to the new young thing – offered to Sacha before being grabbed by Carrey.
  7. Ben Stiller, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 2013.    During the 20 long life of trying to re-make Danny Kaye’s version of the 1939 James Thurber short story… Cohen was in talks after the (first) departures of Jim Carrey and Stiller. Ben also directed reducing Mitty’s daydreams and giving him a real adventure – almost as if this was a sequel to the re-make.
  8. Will Ferrell, Holmes and Watson, 2017.   The idea (in a period of too many Sherlocks (Benedeict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr, Ian McKellen, Jonny Lee Miller) derived from one of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live sketchews.   But he was willing to pass Holmes to SBC and play Dr Watson, himself. Instead, the Brit dropped out, Ferrell returned to Holmes and John C Reilly became the patient doctor in a third movie wih Ferrell. SBC knew what he was doing!
  9. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody, 2017.   Creatve differences with a capital Q for Queen! Cohen quit, wanting a racier view of singer Freddie Mercury’s salacious lifef.  Not so, said drummer Roger Taylor. “We didn’t want it to be a joke – we want people to be moved.”  “He was  too well-known to play Freddie Mercury,added guitarist Brian May. The two Queen stars, co-producing with the like of Robert De Niro, admired SBC’s outstanding comedies. “But they’re very much Sacha Baron Cohen performances,” said May. “The man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn’t that could really happen with Sacha.”  Nor Dominic Cooper or Ben Wishaw. (Daniel Radcliffe was fake news). Then, the unknown Malek began a TV series called Mr Robot…  
  10. Steve Coogan, Greed, 2019.  SNC had been first choice for Sir Richard McCreadie in the trenchant satire of the super-rich.  Mrs SBC, Isla Fisher, kept the faith and played his ex-wife… in the seventh film partnership of Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom.  
  11. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems, 2019.   People actually started talking Oscar for Sandler for the worst ever Al Pacino impression in Benny and Josh Safdie’s drama… with echoes of Anthony Newley scouring around for money in his star-making Sammy, TV, 1958and the movie version, The World of Sammy Lee, 1962.  (Mickey Rooney did the US TVersion, Eddie, 1958). The brothers wanted a Jewish actor and first tried Sandler, who passed (too quickly), “pursued” Harvey Keitel, “considered” Sacha Baron Cohen and went “younger” with Jonah Hill. So now we know who to blame…




 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  11