Sacha Baron Cohen asked not to attend Oscars as 'The Dictator'
Sacha Baron Cohen has no qualms about promoting his films by crashing award shows in character, but the Academy has asked the actor to refrain from bringing "The Dictator" to Oscar Sunday.
The Academy said that Cohen, who appeared in the Best Picture nominee "Hugo," is not banned from the awards show but that it would be "inappropriate" for him to promore his movie.
"We haven't banned him," an Academy spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. "We're just waiting to hear what he's going to do."
"The Dictator" is set to hit theaters worldwide on May 11, 2012 and stars Sacha Baron Cohen as a foreign dictator who comes to America. According to a statement from the studio, the film tells the story of "a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed."
Earlier in the week, it was reported that Cohen planned to attend the 84th annual Academy Awards as his character General Aladeen. The actor's rep and a Paramount spokesperson have yet to comment on the reports.
The Academy reached out to the actor and his representation and told the New York Post that they do not approve of the alleged plans.
"We have expressed that we don't feel it's appropriate to use our Oscar red carpet as a venue for a movie promotional stunt," an Academy rep said in a statement.
In 2006, Cohen attended at the Toronto International Film Festival as his Kazakhstani TV reporter character Borat, arriving on a cart pulled by women dressed as peasants. He later attended the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards as his fashion-obsessed gay character Bruno. During the ceremony, was dropped by suspension cords over Eminem's face. It was later revealed that the rapper was in on the joke.
"The Dictator" was reportedly inspired by the novel "Zabibah and The King" that was purportedly written by Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006 in Iraq after being found guilty of crimes against humanity. The book tells of an Iraqi ruler who marries a villager against her will and even rapes her, which is supposed to be symbolic of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in the early 1990s.
The movie is directed by "Seinfeld" writer Larry Charles, who helmed Baron Cohen's previous movies "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" and "Bruno."
Other stars set to appear in the film include Megan Fox, John C. Reilly, Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley. Reilly and Baron Cohen co-starred together in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."
The first image of Baron Cohen in the film was released in June and featured the star decked out in full military regalia.
Baron Cohen, 40, rose to fame in his native United Kingdom as the television personality Ali G. The "Borat" and "Bruno" films are based on his side characters, an overly-friendly Kahzakh reporter and a fashion expert. While in character, the comedic actor speaks with people in various locations and scenarios, often making sexual or rude remarks.
Baron Cohen also starred opposite Johnny Depp in the 2007 musical film "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."
Baron Cohen was recently cast to play Monsieur Thénardier, a comical con artist and bar owner dubbed the "Master of the House" in a new musical movie adaptation of the Broadway show "Les Miserables," according to IndieWire.com. The film also stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.
Baron Cohen married Australian actress Isla Fisher, 36, in 2010, after being engaged for nearly six years. The couple has two children, Olive, 4, and Elula, 1.
Billy Crystal is returning to host the 84th annual Academy Awards. The ceremony will air live on Sunday, February 26, 2012 on ABC, OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company.
OnTheRedCarpet.com will have complete coverage of the Oscar season, including an exclusive interactive live stream show LIVE from the red carpet. Follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Twitter and "Like" On The Red Carpet on Facebook, and download our FREE entertainment news app for the iPhone and iPad
UPDATE: Sacha Baron Cohen issued an statement regarding his Academy Award plans, announcing that his character will hold a press conference on Friday, February 24.
"Admiral General Aladeen will deliver a formal response tomorrow morning to being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Zionists," read a statement posted on "The Dictator"'s official Facebook page at 3:50 p.m. PT on Thursday..
Watch the trailer for "The Dictator" below.