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When Sacha Baron Cohen stepped up to present at the Oscars on Sunday dressed as his character Ali G, poking fun at the diversity debate by describing himself as “just another token black presenter,” many might have assumed the Academy had forgiven the comedian for his stunt in 2012 when he tipped an urn full of what he claimed were Kim Jong-Il’s ashes over Ryan Seacrest.
But it turns out the appearance was likely just as much a surprise to the organizers.
“The truth is we actually had to sneak it in, because the Oscars sat me down before and said they didn’t want me to do anything out of order, they wanted me to actually just present it as myself,” Baron Cohen told ITV’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show on Tuesday. “But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets, and I managed to get away with it.”
According to Baron Cohen’s wife, actress Isla Fisher, they had to lock themselves in the bathroom for 40 minutes to put on the beard, telling people the comedian had food poisoning.
“I mean, there were a few moments I was a bit worried how they’d react to the first gag,” added Baron Cohen. “But I bumped into Chris Rock actually on the way on and pitched him the gag, and he gave me the thumbs up, so I went for it.”
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