Sacha Baron Cohen is officially saying good-bye – or the Kazakh word for good-bye – to Borat, now that the comic character’s phenomenal success leaves him unable to ambush any more unsuspecting victims.
The actor and comedian, 36, tells England’s Daily Telegraph that he is forced to ditch the hapless journalist from Kazakhstan, as well his rapper character Ali G – and that it’s a sad farewell.
“When I was being Ali G and Borat, I was in character sometimes 14 hours a day, and I came to love them, so admitting I am never going to play them again is quite a sad thing,” Cohen says. “It is like saying goodbye to a loved one.”
Cohen created both characters almost a decade ago, and incorporated them into a popular HBO series. But the huge success of Borat the film exposed the character to much wider audience, making his ambush-style antics impossible.
“It is hard,” Cohen says, “and the problem with success, although it’s fantastic, is that every new person who sees the Borat movie is one less person I ‘get’ with Borat again, so it’s a kind of self-defeating form, really.”
The end is particularly difficult given how much time Cohen has spent as Borat outside of his TV and film appearances. “If I’d done the entire promotional campaign for Borat as myself it wouldn’t have developed in the same way,” he says. “To me, it should be entertaining and the entertainment should carry on.”
Cohen has intimated before that the characters may have outstayed their welcome, telling National Public Radio last January, “I think the days of me going undercover are probably over.”
Cohen and his actress wife, Isla Fisher, welcomed a baby girl in October, but the actor has little to add on that score. He tells the Telegraph: “I try and keep that part of my life separate from the professional part because I don’t think it helps people appreciate the work or the comedy or make me any funnier if they know what’s going on at home.”