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23rd Dec 2018

Sacha Baron Cohen reveals one scene in Who Is America? that was “too dark and wrong” to air

Dave Hanratty

Probably the right call in the end.

Sacha Baron Cohen is no stranger to controversy.

Having placed various high profile figures in embarrassing situations under the guise of Ali G, Borat and Bruno, the London comedian has a well-earned reputation as one of the most arch pranksters out there.

Much was expected from his most recent show Who Is America? and he didn’t disappoint on the chaotic front.

Gun activists were duly humiliated, hardcore religious loyalties were tested and then there was the ‘paedophile detector‘ bit.

Business as usual, really, but the satirist has now given details of one segment that he himself deemed to be too shocking to put onscreen.

A new interview with Deadline sheds light on an interview with a Las Vegas concierge – conducted by Cohen’s character Gio Monaldo – that became deadly serious and deeply uncomfortable by the end.

“We were shooting some of this at the time of Harvey Weinstein,” recalls Cohen.

“We wanted to investigate how does someone like Harvey Weinstein get away with criminality, essentially. And the network that surrounds him. During the interview, I revealed that basically Gio has molested an eight-year-old boy.

“Now, mind you, this is extreme comedy and we thought that the guy would leave the room. Instead, this concierge stays in the room and I go, listen, you’ve got to help me get rid of the problem. And this guy starts advising Gio how to get rid of this issue.

“We even at one point talk about murdering the boy, and the concierge is just saying, ‘Well, listen, I’m really sorry. In this country, we can’t just drown the boy. This is America, we don’t do that.’ And then, in the end, he puts me in touch with a lawyer who can silence the boy. It became really dark stuff.”

And yet that’s not even the worst part, as Cohen revealed the moment that struck him as especially “too dark and wrong” to show the general public.

“At the end of the interview I say, listen, I want to go out and celebrate now. Can you get me a date for tonight?

“He says, ‘What do you mean, a date?’ I go, you know, like a young man. He says, ‘Well, what kind of age?’ I say, lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight.

“And he says, ‘Yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that.’”

As the interviewer notes, a knowingly comedic situation had been well left behind at this point.

Cohen confirmed that he and his production team immediately turned the footage over to the FBI, but it didn’t lead to anything.

“We thought, perhaps there’s a pedophile ring in Las Vegas that’s operating for these very wealthy men,” he explained.

“And this concierge had said that he’d worked for politicians and various billionaires. But in the end the FBI decided not to pursue it.”

You can read the full Deadline interview here.