Sacha Baron Cohen Accidentally Uncovered Something Shady While Filming

The following article includes allegations of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic approach requires a depth of commitment that few accomplished method actors could even achieve, as well as an instinct for when to dig deeper and when to back off from the bit. When speaking to Deadline back in 2018 about why he went undercover again after his 2009 film, "Bruno," the comedian shared that he felt like Donald Trump's presidency made it clear that it was time to reassess America's cultural temperature. The actor said Trump's presidency ushered in a new age of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and alt-right groups getting bolder under his influence. Baron-Cohen went on to make a huge discovery.  

"I realized, I have to do something else to deal with this kind of anger and total disgust at what was going on. So, purely for myself, I realized I had to go undercover again," said Baron-Cohen to Deadline. However, the undercover process is a taxing one; it includes building backstories for each character and conducting hours-long interviews that hinge on the other person being completely unaware of the joke. However, Baron-Cohen asserted that the Trump era empowered people to speak more openly about their radical views because the head of the government seemed more than comfortable doing so. 

Before starting work on what would become a short series released by Showtime, "Who Is America?" Baron-Cohen went through a difficult decision-making process. Still, he shared, "As difficult as it was, as unpleasant as I knew it would be, I felt it was time to create new characters that were designed to expose people, and expose politicians and those in power."

Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher are dedicated to several social causes

In late 2021, a TikTok user known as FluentlyForward posted a video to the platform in response to folks praising Sacha Baron-Cohen and his wife, actress Isla Fisher, for their work with non-profit and philanthropic organizations. The couple donated $1 million to Syrian refugees in 2015, per USA Today. According to Evening Standard, in 2020 they also donated a plane full of personal protective equipment to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FluentlyForward agreed with TikTok users' positive perception of the Hollywood couple, sharing that Baron-Cohen had used his form of undercover comedy as a tool to unmask social issues that reached beyond bigotry and hateful opinions. The creator reflected on the various "open secrets" that exist in Hollywood that Baron-Cohen has worked to unmask in his career, specifically the situation revealed in Cohen's 2018 interview with Deadline.

While shooting his limited series "Who Is America?" for Showtime in Las Vegas, he headed to a fancy hotel with his film crew. Undercover as his character, Gio Moldonado, the actor talked to a concierge, asking him questions about high-profile individuals like producer Harvey Weinstein, who had begun making headlines for the assault accusations against him in a 2017 report published by The New York Times. Baron-Cohen also spoke to the Vegas concierge about some of his previous high-profile clients, including politicians and billionaires, per Deadline.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

A Las Vegas concierge raised red flags

Sacha Baron Cohen's conversation with the Las Vegas concierge took a shocking turn when he began discussing relationships with underage persons in order to provoke information from his interviewee, per Deadline. He told the outlet, "We wanted to investigate how does someone like Harvey Weinstein gets away with doing what ... get away with criminality, essentially. And the network that surrounds him." Weinstein has had allegations stacked against him since his former career as a concert promoter in the 1970s, per the BBC's timeline and a New York Times follow-up story after their initial report on Weinstein in 2017.

In character as Gio Moldonado, Baron-Cohen told the concierge that he had an interest in relationships with young boys, and asked for advice on how to keep a recent situation quiet. The actor was in complete disbelief when the concierge gave him the number of a lawyer who could help him avoid legal action for his misconduct. Staying in character, Baron-Cohen expressed relief to have a potential solution to his predicament. He then told the concierge that he wanted a "date" for the evening, describing a boy whose age is ideally "lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight." The concierge, who seemed to have experience setting up this kind of meeting said, "Yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

The FBI decided not to follow up on the evidence

Though Sacha Baron Cohen and his film crew reported their suspicions concerning the concierge to the FBI, and even sent them footage of the un-aired interview, the actor shared that the agency decided not to pursue the lead (via Deadline). Baron-Cohen told the outlet, "We immediately turned over the footage to the FBI because we thought, perhaps there's a pedophile ring in Las Vegas that's operating for these very wealthy men. And this concierge had said that he'd worked for politicians and various billionaires." 

FluentlyFoward pointed out in her TikTok video that this course of inaction was not uncommon for the Bureau, using a 2020 ABC News article that detailed financier Jeffrey Epstein's indictment as her video background. The article revealed that federal prosecutors in Florida were aware of Epstein's predatory misdeeds long before any evidence reached the public stage. Per the article, a victim spoke with state prosecutors in 2008 but did not appear before a grand jury because Epstein secured a plea with the U.S. Attorney's Office for 18 months in county jail. Her testimony didn't surface for another 11 years later when Epstein was arrested in 2019.