EXCLUSIVE: British actress Annabelle Wallis has been set as one of the female leads opposite Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong in Grimsby, the Louis Leterrier-directed comedy for Sony Pictures. Strong plays a British black ops agent who’s forced to team up with his idiotic English football hooligan brother, played by Baron Cohen. Wallis has been cast as one of his suitors. The actress, who was seen this year in Fleming, the biopic about James Bond’s creator, recently wrapped New Line/Warner Bros’ feature Annabelle, a prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring. She’s currently shooting the second season of BBC Two drama Peaky Blinders. Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham penned Grimsby which Baron Cohen is producing through Four by Two along with Eric Fellner of Working Title, and Nira Park of Big Talk Productions. Wallis is repped by ICM Partners, Untitled, and United Agents in the UK.
Mark Strong has been set to star alongside Sacha Baron Cohen in Grimsby, the Louis Leterrier-directed comedy for Sony Pictures. Scripted by Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham, the comedy is about a British black-ops spy (Strong) whose idiotic brother is an English football hooligan (Baron Cohen).
UPDATE: Sacha Baron Cohen Hails Leo’s ‘Wolf’ Hooker Anus Coke-Snorting In Paramount Re-Up, As ‘Grimsby’ Moves To Sony
“Any studio that puts out a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio snorts cocaine from a hooker’s anus is a place I’m happy to call home.”
Here it is in French: “N’importe quel studio ne met un film où Leonardo di Caprio renifle de la cocaïne de l’anus d’une prostituée est un endroit que je suis heureux d’appeler à la maison,” said Baron Cohen today while vacationing with his mistress in Villenueve, Southern France.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 11:24 am PST: Paramount Pictures has renewed its first look deal with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Four By Two Films, with a three year term and a commitment to make two pictures. At the same time, Sony Pictures has picked up worldwide rights to Grimsby, a comedy that was developed by Baron Cohen’s company at Paramount. Sony has committed to make the film and has set it for release on July 31, 2015. The studio has locked Clash Of The Titans helmer Louis Leterrier to direct the film, which will begin shooting this summer with Baron Cohen starring. Leterrier’s deal is being made right now.
Co-written by Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham, the comedy focuses on a British black-ops spy whose brother is an idiotic English football hooligan. Baron Cohen plays the latter. Baron Cohen and Baynham were Oscar-nominated …
The sequel to Tim Burton’s billion-dollar 2010 pic will be called Through The Looking Glass, and Sacha Baron Cohen is in early talks to star. Disney‘s new film, directed by The Muppets helmer James Bobin and set for release May 27, 2016, returns Mia Wasikowska as Alice and Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter. It would be a reunion for Baron Cohen and Depp, who starred together in Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. The Bruno and Borat star’s recent credits include Les Miserables, The Dictator and a voice role in Madagascar 3. In November, he signed a first-look deal with FXP, and FXX ordered Ali G: Rezurection, which features his breakout Ali G character. A week later, he stole the show at the BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards when he came to the podium to accept a career award and “inadvertently” pushed an elderly wheelchair-bound woman off the stage. Or not.
The director of this year’s slick magic drama Now You See Me and such tentpole fare as Clash Of The Titans and 2008′s The Incredible Hulk will direct Sacha Baron Cohen in Paramount‘s Grimsby, a spy comedy written by Baron Cohen and Phil Johnson. The plot centers on a British black ops agent forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother — a northern English soccer hooligan. Our sister pub Variety broke the Louis Leterrier news first.
Catch up with the best of this week’s film stories on Deadline:
The Day JFK Was Shot: 50 Years Later, Hollywood Remembers
By Dominic Patten - In remembrance of the 35th president, I asked some of the industry’s most notable and insightful individuals — a few of whom had seen JFK just before his death — where they were when they heard the news of the shooting and what they experienced that day. Here’s what they told me…
AFM: Schlock Still Rocks In Santa Monica
By Dominic Patten – Allow me to butcher a Mark Twain quote and say that rumors of schlock’s demise have been greatly exaggerated…
Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Partner Jack Giarraputo Plots Retirement
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: This week, Jack Giarraputo has been telling associates at studios like Sony and Paramount that he will retire after he finishes producing the Warner Bros. comedy Blended, and after that the Chris Columbus-directed Pixels for Sony.
Facts Be Damned! How Traffic Trumped Factual Reporting On Tom Cruise-Mark Wahlberg Non-Story
By Mike Fleming Jr. – The digital age has made entertainment industry coverage more exciting, but the race to post and the hunger for eyeballs leads to increasingly shameful reporting of innuendo and flat-out falsehoods.
We gave short shrift yesterday to the video of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s acceptance speech, when he took the stage to accept the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence In Comedy. And then murdered the wheelchair-bound 87-year old Grace Collington, right after the unsuspecting audience was told she appeared in Chaplin’s 1931 film City Lights as a 5-year-old.
Is this more outrageous than when Baron Cohen promoted Bruno by giving Eminem an aerial tea-bagging at the 2009 MTV Awards, or when, as The Dictator, he dumped an urn on red carpet interviewer Ryan Seacrest and told him that if anyone asks who you are wearing, you can say Kim Jong Il? Baron Cohen is most certainly keeping the spirit of Andy Kaufman alive, and I think that this week he set the bar to a level even he will be hard pressed to top. Here is his Britannia stunt in two segments, and below that is his MTV Awards and Oscar handiwork.
Here is Baron Cohen’s Eminem stunt, followed by his Oscar appearance, before he was hauled off by security:
There’s no question about it. Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award For Excellence In Comedy winner Sacha Baron Cohen stole the BAFTA-LA ‘s annual Britannia Awards Saturday night with a comedy routine that had half the packed Beverly Hilton audience roaring and the other half shaking in their Jimmy Choos wondering if he had really just killed an elderly woman in a wheelchair – or was it one of his patented tasteless gags? You can see for yourself when the show airs Sunday night on BBC America but the reaction was so visceral in the room host Rob Brydon had to literally calm down the normally more sedate British crowd. Some clearly thought it was real.
At any rate, the bit made the awards gathering memorable for reasons organizers probably didn’t imagine. One BAFTA exec told me later that they were up until 3 AM just trying to clear all the legalities of Cohen’s acceptance bit which involved presenter Salma Hayek on stage with someone rolled out in a wheelchair she very believably identified as Grace Collington, an actress she said appeared with Charlie Chaplin in 1931′s City Lights at the age of five. “At 87, she’s the oldest surviving actor to have worked with Chaplin in a silent movie,” she told the audience as the woman sat there. When Cohen came up to accept his award from them, “Collington” warmly presented him with one of Chaplin’s famous canes. He then proceeded to push her off the stage and she landed face down, motionless and apparently dead on the ground. “Grace Collington is the oldest, sorry, was the oldest… I dedicate my award to her. It’s obviously a tragedy, but on the bright side what a great way to go. She’ll probably make the Oscars In Memoriam section… Anyway tonight is not about her, it’s about me,” he said as the limp body was carried out of the ballroom to rollicking laughter of the sort you rarely hear at these events.
Sacha Baron Cohen is dusting off his first famous alter ego, Ali G, in Ali G: Rezurection. The show, which will premiere on comedy-centric FXX early next year, includes every episode of HBO’s Da Ali G Show with new, original introductions starring Baron Cohen, along with the first 6 episodes of the British Da Ali G Show that never aired on American television and The Best of Ali G. Ali G: Rezurection is part of a first-look deal Baron Cohen’s production company, Four By Two, has signed with FX Prods. Da Ali G Show debuted on Channel 4 in the U.K. in 2003 as a spinoff from the network’s popular The 11 O’clock Show where the character originated. The first six-episode season aired on Channel 4, after which the show was picked up by HBO for 12 more U.S.-centric episodes. Alongside the eponymous Ali G, Da Ali G Show also features the Borat and Bruno characters. All three went on to headline feature films. In addition to the Ali G episodes, FXX will air all of the Ali G segments and vignettes from The 11 O’clock Show. Baron Cohen is repped by WME and Ziffren, Brittenham.
Los Angeles, September 4, 2013 – The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles® (BAFTA Los Angeles) is pleased to announce it will honor actor/writer/producer Sacha Baron Cohen at the 2013 BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards presented by BBC AMERICA on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. For the second year in a row, the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards will be broadcast on BBC AMERICA, airing in primetime November 10, 2013 at 8pm ET as a two-hour special including footage of the Britannia Awards Red Carpet. The Britannia Awards are BAFTA Los Angeles’ highest accolade, a celebration of achievements honoring individuals and companies that have dedicated their careers to advancing the entertainment arts. Sacha Baron Cohen will receive The Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy.
BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE… Sacha Baron Cohen is just not seeing eye to eye with the remaining members of Queen who have script and director approval over that biopic on iconic lead singer Freddie Mercury. That film had Cohen circling the role but I’ve just learned he’s now pulled out. The reason is that the band wanted to make more of a PG movie about Queen while Cohen was counting on a gritty R-rated tell-all centered around the gifted gay singer. Given the astonishing physical resemblance, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Freddie but Sacha. Cohen had brought in Peter Morgan to write and various directors including David Fincher and Tom Hooper to develop the project for himself. However, none were approved by the band. Film is set at Sony Pictures and GK Films and Cohen has long been attached to play Mercury. But because of the dispute over ‘creative differences’ no formal offer could go out to Hooper who’d just worked with Sacha on Best Picture Oscar nominee Les Miserables. Graham King and Tim Headington are producing with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and Queen Films.
While awards voters traditionally underestimate the merits of comedians, Sacha Baron Cohen is the best possible proof that a comedic actor can possess a wider range than his dramatic counterparts. Like his idol Peter Sellers, Cohen arrests stereotypes and authority figures through his iconic personalities (flamboyant Austrian fashionista Bruno Gehard; the blunt Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev and the fierce Middle Eastern totalitarian Admiral General Aladeen as featured in last summer’s comedy The Dictator). However, Cohen has a leg-up on Sellers in that his alter-egos brilliantly cross the line, as he throws them into real-life clashes with celebrities and politicians, often exposing their prejudices and shortcomings. Equally balancing Cohen’s outrageous laugh facets is his ability to escape into serious roles, (read his turns as Signor Adolfo Pirelli the Barber in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, the Station Inspector in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo). This holiday season Cohen continues to generate buzz in his second musical role following Sweeney Todd as the duplicitous, vivacious innkeeper cum Master of the House, Thenardier, in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables – a part which Cohen takes to another level with his own sense of humor. In 2007, Cohen received a best screenplay Oscar nomination for co-penning Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan. This year, he shares an ensemble award SAG nomination for Les Miserables as well as a National Board of Review ensemble win.
AwardsLine: How did the role of Thenardier come to you? Was this a project you always wanted to be a part of?
Sacha Baron Cohen: Actually, I only have a history with Les Mis in that when I came out of university at age 20 or 21, I went through an open audition for the chorus in Les Mis; not even one of the named roles. And there were about 300 people who were lining up outside the Palace Theater in the West End and I passed the first audition which was singing and then they had a group audition for dancing and they taught a little routine. I had no idea how to learn choreographed steps and so I just decided to freestyle and came to the actual audition. There were seven people doing perfectly choreographed steps and then me just doing some very bad breakdancing in the corner and I did not get the role. So, there is a history.
In character as Ali G, Sacha Baron Cohen accepted the British Comedy Academy Outstanding Achievement Award tonight in London. Sir Ben Kingsley presented. The clip is actually funny. Here’s a sample: Ali says things have been so tough, he’s had to buy his track suits in second-hand shops, and turns around to show the name Savile across the gold lamé outfit’s back. “I’ve never even heard of this label” Ali says — the Brit-centric inside joke refers to the similarly flashy dresser and BBC host Jimmy Savile, now deceased, who’s accused of multiple instances of sex abuse. There’s more. Watch. Enjoy.
BREAKING: Sacha Baron Cohen and his Four By Two Films will develop a feature for Paramount Pictures inspired by Cecil Chao, the Hong Kong billionaire who offered $65 million to any man who succeeded in marrying his lesbian daughter. Chao’s offer made international headlines last week following reports that his daughter had a French church bless her relationship with her longtime girlfriend. The film’s tentatively titled The Lesbian, and is a potential starring vehicle for Baron Cohen, who presumably would play the billionaire. He’ll produce through his Four By Two Films banner. A writer has not been attached. Baron Cohen’s last film, The Dictator, grossed $175 million worldwide for Paramount.
The 65th Cannes Film Festival officially kicked off today with dual press events by Paramount for The Dictator and DreamWorks Animation for Rise Of The Guardians (distributed by Paramount) that provided the only real visible major Hollywood presence. Leave it to Sacha Baron Cohen to cause major trouble and a massive traffic jam as he marched down the Croisette with camel in tow in character as Admiral General Aladeen. An army of paparazzi followed his journey from the Carlton Hotel, to the Le Voilier brasserie across the way (where the entire entrance is plastered with signage from the movie), to Ralph Lauren’s shop next door (where the camel and photogs were left outside). Of course, staging a major Cannes photo stunt like this is expected with his movie opening in the U.S. today. What better way to drum up publicity than to launch a takeover of the Croisette? Like what happened at the Oscars and CinemaCon, things threatened to get out of control as traffic snarled in both directions as far as the eye could see, and the Gendarme grew nervous. But that didn’t faze Baron Cohen, who stopped to shake hands with DWA’s Jeffrey Katzenberg at the Carlton’s outdoor cafe. Reaching out to Baron Cohen — who was a voice actor in DWA’s Madagascar 3, premiering here Friday — Katzenberg was heard yelling “Mr. Dictator! Mr. Dictator!” Never believing too much publicity is enough publicity, Baron Cohen was also scheduled for a Carlton Beach press conference later to continue The Dictator’s international push.
Just before this stunt, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation showed off 25 minutes of its big holiday movie Rise Of The Guardians. Although footage previously was presented to the press in LA and NY as well as to exhibitors at CinemaCon, this was the most detailed look yet at the ambitious toon co-starring Isla Fisher (Baron Cohen’s wife). Called an “animated Avengers“, it was labeled by another co-star Alec Baldwin as “the Justice League of childhood” because the film unites a group of iconic heroes including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost in order to fight the classic Boogey Man. Guardians has the look and feel of the kind of movie that could turn into a major animated Oscar contender. Giving it even more cred are its executive producers Guillermo del Toro and William Joyce, who won the animated short Oscar this year. The film’s voice cast also includes Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, and Jude Law.
Sorry but Sacha’s pre-release shtick isn’t getting stale for me – yet. Make sure you watch to the end for the legendary director who makes a cameo…
Charles Foster Kane had his newsreel, and now Sacha Baron Cohen’s General Aladeen gets his in this look at the first scene of Paramount‘s The Dictator, which opens wide May 16. There’s plenty of fresh stuff as well as that clever track and field bit from the film’s previous trailer.
The actor prepared plenty of material for tonight’s CinemaCon movie marketing event in Las Vegas after he paraded in costume and character through the amused audience of theater owners to promote his upcoming Paramount film The Dictator. Baron Cohen got in digs at Hollywood before a late-night surprise screening elsewhere. “I thought I was going to be the only dictator here tonight,” he said. “Imagine my surprise when I found out Jeffrey Katzenberg would be here.” He told exhibitors: “I hope you show my film on all of your screens… Trust me, there are bigger bombs than John Carter.” Staying with the riff, he urged Disney to “just shoot the executive” responsible for the film. “Wait a minute, you did” — referring to studio chief Rich Ross’s firing. By way of introduction, Baron Cohen claimed to have starred in movies such as “When Harry Kidnapped Sally, The 14 Year Old Virgin, and The Planet Of The Rapes“. As he told the industry audience, “My film will be released on May 16. As for your families, we’ll see.”
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures will change the opening date of its Sacha Baron Cohen-starrer The Dictator forward five days, moving from May 11 to its new date on Wednesday May 16. That is being done to avoid a head to head showdown against Warner Bros’ Dark Shadows. The move was made after a trailer for the Tim Burton-directed Johnny Depp-starrer began showing that the film seems far more comedic than expected considering its eerie subject matter. Paramount didn’t want to risk cannibalizing the comedy audience by bashing heads with a rival on the same opening weekend.
Now, The Dictator opens closer to Memorial Day, between Dark Shadows and Battleship. Warner Bros is never shy about scheduling such opening weekend dust ups, which is has done when Arthur went against Your Highness, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas went against Tower Heist, and Sherlock Holmes 2 went against Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol. Paramount gave itself five days of space from that date, and it worked out well for everyone.