For many of us, the pressure of being Borat is a fleeting, mostly pleasant high, a brief excursion into the realm of the Other that rarely lasts longer than the space between saying “Mah” and “Wife.” (Or the grim lacuna that exists betwixt a “Very” and a “nice.”) For Sacha Baron Cohen, though, the character is obviously a whole lot more intense and all-consuming. And never more so than during the filming of last year’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, during which, for one memorable scene, the actor was forced to stay in character as everyone’s favorite catchphrase-spouting mustachioed weirdo for five full days, while experiencing lockdown with a pair of QAnon supporters.
This was, obviously, a pretty fraught (if also profoundly self-inflicted) ordeal, one that Baron Cohen reflected on in an interview this week with Ben Affleck, as part of Variety’s Actors On Actors series of conversations between the Zoom-equipped and famous. As always, it’s fascinating to hear Baron Cohen talk as himself about the extremely weird life he’s constructed for himself—including the panic attack that set in on his first morning in the lockdown, when he realized he had four more days of acting/lying to the two other human beings he was holed up with that he had to get through.
As usual for this series, the whole conversation is an interesting exercise in honesty and ego-stroking, as Baron Cohen asks Affleck about his portrayal of alcoholism in The Way Back, and Affleck grills him on working with Aaron Sorkin and the infamous Rudy Giuliani scene from Borat 2. You can watch the full interview here.