At this point, most of us are aware of Sacha Baron Cohen, the British actor who has portrayed a Kazakhstanian reporter in Borat; a gay Austrian fashion buff in this summer’s Brüno, and a French car racing star in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby — among many other things. What many of us are not so much aware of is that Sacha has a cousin named Ash, and he’s been here in America and working in movies for much longer than his superstar relative.
In the July issue of Esquire, they did a small story on Ash Baron Cohen, and while he hasn’t made the most well-known films we’ve ever heard of, his story is wonderful and decorated with the praises of cinematic legends. Some of the films he has made are: Bang, which Roger Ebert called one of the best movies of 1997; Pups, which had Mischa Barton and Burt Reynolds; and probably his biggest project was This Girl’s Life, which starred James Woods, Rosario Dawson, Michael Rapaport, and Ioan Gruffudd. He also currently has three movies on the way that are in various states of production.
Most of his projects were directed under the one-name format: Ash. This was because he was initially here illegally. Apparently Oliver Stone loved his movie Bang so much, that he said “We need to get you legal,” and actually wrote the INS to make it happen.
Click over to the other side for one of the best Hollywood stories I’ve ever heard — WITH video! Pre-click warning: this video has some heavy NSFW language from thespian Richard Harris (that’d be Professor Dumbledore from the first two Harry Potter films, for you younger generation folks). Now you’re too curious not to look, aren’t you?
Of all of the great little bits involving Ash Baron Cohen and his career, the best is easily the story of how he got the man, the myth, the legendary Richard Harris to appear in his student film, The Sex Police. This quote has some harsh language, so read with caution.
I went to the Sunset Marquis to sneak into their pool. I was going to be confident, stride toward the pool, and take a few dives. As I walked in, I saw Richard Harris on his balcony. Very regal. That shock of white hair. He looked like King Arthur. So I picked up the house phone — I thought I’d just take a chance — and I asked for his suite. Then I heard this voice — “Who the fuck is this?” I said, “Look, I don’t know anyone in this town.” I asked for five minutes of his time. He said, “Be here at 7:00 A.M. tomorrow for breakfast.” So I was. I said, “I’m shooting a student film, would you consider doing a cameo?” He said, “Write me out a scene.” So I went home and for some reason I thought, I’ll write a scene about the etymology of the word cunt. Either he’s going to throw me out or he’s going to be intrigued. I came back the next day. He said, “Brilliant. Let’s shoot it tomorrow.” He was shooting Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood, and he said, “I told Clint I have food poisoning and can’t come to work today.” When we got back to his hotel that night, he called up Clint. He said, “I didn’t have food poisoning. I was with a young filmmaker, and we were running around on the beach. There were seven people there doing the whole thing, and even I was holding my own light.” He goes, “That was real filmmaking, Clint.”
Seriously, what I would give to have been on a third line during that Clint Eastwood conversation.
Another thanks to Esquire (head over to read more on the story of Ash Baron Cohen) for pointing out that there is actually a clip of Richard Harris’s appearance in this film on YouTube, which you can see below!
As mentioned before the click-over, this video has multiple usage of a certain c-word that offends soccer moms and others world wide, so it be considered very NSFW! Keep in mind that this is Richard Harris, and by God, he can say whatever the hell he wants to and it’s not as offensive.