(REUTERS – 8TH MAY) At the press conference for his new comedy, “The Dictator” on Monday (May 7) comedian Sacha Baron Cohen stays in character as General Aladeen.
Aladeen is Cohen’s outlandish role in the upcoming mockumentary film about the oppressive ruler of fictional Republic of Wadiya who is hellbent on keeping democracy at bay during his reign of terror.
Cohen entered the conference room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York as the General, surrounded by female guards, amidst chants of his name by actors posing as residents of Wadiya.
He started the conference by addressing the gathered journalists as “devils of the Zionist media” before launching into a little rant, followed by answers to questions.
“On behalf of my dear friend and doubles Tennis partner, President Assad of Syria, I want to thank theUnited Nations for their brave inaction over Syria. Thirteen months and still no Security Councilresolution. You guys are amazing. You have done next to nothing for the Syrian people. But remember — you can always do less,” General Aladeen told reporters at the outset.
Through the duration of the entire conference, Cohen did not break character as the General and poked fun at reporters whenever he could.
The apparent publicity stunt is not uncommon for Cohen, who has mastered promotion with other characters Borat and Bruno. Cohen’s first movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” was a major hit, picking $128 million (USD) from U.S. and Canadian moviegoer pockets in 2006. His next, “Bruno” was considered a flop at box offices with $60 million in domestic theaters.
When asked about his response to the Arab Spring, Cohen as the General lamented the uprising that had led to the downfall of several dictators.
“First Mubarak is shown the door. Now he and his mistresses must make do with the measly billion dollars he stole. Now, how are they supposed to eat out? And how are they supposed to go on vacation? And then they got poor old Muammar (Gaddafi). He and I were signed up to rent Miranda Kerr (a famous model) for next month and now he’s gone and I’m not going to get my deposit back,” he said.
As the dictator of Wadiya, his answers remained provocative and politically incorrect — a style that Cohen is well known for.
“Democracy is the worst, endless talking and everyone’s vote counts, no matter how black or crippled or female you are,” he told reporters as he explained why the dictatorship of Wadiya is more effective.
When asked who he would support in the 2012 U.S. presidential race, the General gave a mixed answer in which he deliberately mispronounced the name of presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
“In terms of getting into power in America, I would have to support the Democrats. If they can enable a Kenyan to become President, then why not Wadiyan? But if it was money that I was giving, I support and I give my full support to Mitchell (deliberate mispronunciation of Mitt) Romney. He has the makings of a great dictator. He is incredibly wealthy but pays no taxes. And it’s not much of a leap to go from firing people to firing squads. And from putting pets on the top of a car to putting political dissidents on the top of them,” he said.
Towards the end of the news conference, a reporter from E!, an American entertainment network, asked the General about the infamous incident earlier this year at the Oscars red carpet when Cohen, appearing as General Aladeen on the red carpet, spilled ashes on another E! presenter, Ryan Seacrest.
The General had then claimed he was carrying the ashes of recently departed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and purposely spilled them all over the black tuxedo of Seacrest.
The General explained the incident as, “I was showing him (Ryan Seacrest) that it was from South Korea, the urn was made from South Korea. I lift it up and then it accidentally fall on him. But you know they were not his ashes, his son, Kim Jong-un, he is so fat, he looks like he swallowed his father. And that is because he actually did. So it was the remains of the barbecue. But now you know that jacket is property of North Korea. So Seacrest better give it back.”
For more of The General’s antics, viewers can watch “The Dictator” which opens in the United States on 16th May.