If Sacha Baron Cohen’s Golden Globe-nominated Showtime series Who Is America? really is finished—and honestly, we’ll believe it when we see it—there is at least one upside to the undercover show’s conclusion: Baron Cohen’s sudden willingness to do post-mortems on the series, the shooting of which is starting to sound just as, if not more, fascinating than the show itself.
Take, for instance, this interview he recently gave to Deadline, in which Baron Cohen goes in-depth on a number of the show’s most audacious schemes, including fooling Dick Cheney with a real story from the show’s Israeli weapons consultant, and the time that a savvy White House official just barely saved Ben Carson from having to talk about Shopkins. It’s fascinating stuff, especially when Baron Cohen opens up about a segment that ended up going so dark, he refused to air it—and submitted it to the FBI instead.
Unsurprisingly, the interview in questioned centered on Baron Cohen’s new “fixer” character, Gio Monaldo, a purported go-between for the rich and powerful who might be the most openly evil persona the comedian has ever slipped inside. But not openly evil enough to make some of his targets blanch, apparently, as when Baron Cohen attempted to repulse a Las Vegas “concierge” known for helping billionaires and politicians fulfill their needs and get out of scrapes in Sin City:
And there was an interview that didn’t make it in, with Gio. We were shooting some of this at the time of Harvey Weinstein. We wanted to investigate how does someone like Harvey Weinstein gets away with doing what…get away with criminality, essentially. And the network that surrounds him. We decided that Gio would interview a concierge in Las Vegas. During the interview, I revealed that basically Gio has molested an eight-year-old boy. Now, mind you, this is extreme comedy and we thought that the guy would leave the room. Instead, this concierge stays in the room and I go, listen, you’ve got to help me get rid of the problem. And this guy starts advising Gio how to get rid of this issue. We even at one point talk about murdering the boy, and the concierge is just saying, “Well, listen, I’m really sorry. In this country, we can’t just drown the boy. This is America we don’t do that.” And then, in the end, he puts me in touch with a lawyer who can silence the boy. I became really dark stuff. And then at the end of the interview I say, listen, I want to go out and celebrate now. Can you get me a date for tonight? He says, “What do you mean, a date?”
I go, you know, like a young man. He says, “Well, what kind of age?” I say, lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight. And he says, “Yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that.”
As Baron Cohen himself notes, it’s incredibly extreme stuff, to the point where his staff immediately handed the video over to the cops in case the concierge’s claims were accurate. Talking about why he cut it, the actor noted, “It was too dark and wrong. In a journalistic way it was fascinating, but it was so extreme and so dark that it was too unsettling for the audience.”
You can read the full interview—including the much more prosaic reason he and his editors cut the show’s much-hyped sit-down with Sarah Palin—here.