Sacha Baron Cohen: Ex-IDF officer helped me trick Dick Cheney

Actor says vice president quizzed him about his fake military history ahead of interview for 'Who Is America?'

June 11, 2019 05:52
3 minute read.
Sacha Baron Cohen.

Sacha Baron Cohen.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Sacha Baron Cohen successfully tricked the former vice president of the United States into signing his “waterboard kit” on his recent Showtime TV show with the help – and uniform – of a former IDF officer.

In a recent interview with Don Cheadle as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors video series, Baron Cohen discussed how he became Erran Morad, the character of an Israeli Mossad agent and/or IDF special ops officer as part of last year’s satirical TV show, Who Is America?

“All those prosthetic looks – you get up at 3:30 in the morning and it’s five to six hours, because you put on an entirely new head,” Baron Cohen said. “It’s layers and layers and layers and layers, and then it’s an hour taking it off.”

But when Baron Cohen sat down with former US vice president Dick Cheney, he needed more preparation than just makeup and a wig. And he used the time sitting in the makeup chair for a briefing from a former IDF officer, which helped him fool Cheney into thinking he was the real deal.

“How am I going to convince one of the most cynical, suspicious, brilliant minds that I’m real,” the actor said of his interview that aired last year on Who is America? – “and how am I going to convince him to say some things that he’s ultimately going to regret?”

Baron Cohen said that because they were using so many weapons in different sketches on the Showtime show, “we brought in a weapons expert and he happened to be Israeli.” The actor borrowed the man’s IDF uniform for the interview, and “luckily, an hour and a half beforehand, I sat with the guy whose uniform I had borrowed... and said ‘tell me everything about your military history.’”

That came in handy, the actor said, when Cheney, before the interview began said, “’listen, I want to know something about who’s interviewing me.’ And he said ‘tell me about your military career.’”

Baron Cohen regaled the former vice president with the stories he had just heard from the ex-IDF officer, including the anecdote that, “at the age of seven I went to school every day with a lunch box in one hand and a gas mask in the other.”

The actor said when he went through the operations he had learned about, Cheney recognized many of the stories, which convinced the vice president that he was talking to the real deal.

In the interview, which aired on Showtime last year, Cheney didn’t blink when Morad asked him, “How does it feel to be the king of terrorist killers?” or to name the favorite war he started.

The vice president also just laughed when Morad said he once waterboarded his wife, and he also agreed to sign a “waterboarding kit” he was told already has the signatures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Demi Lovato.

While Cheney never publicly reacted to the interview after it aired, Baron Cohen is still embroiled in a lawsuit with another public figure who unwittingly appeared on his show: failed US Senate candidate Roy Moore. Moore has sued Baron Cohen, Showtime and its parent company CBS for $95 million, claiming he was fraudulently manipulated into appearing on the show.

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