Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of the character Borat Sagdiyev and the star of “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” is known for stirring up problems. This week, he told the Daily Beast’s Last Laugh podcast that he was the reason that Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and rock star Kid Rock broke off their marriage.
The movie, released in 2006, depicted the Borat character obsessively seeking her in the United States, devastatingly watching her infamous sex tape with Tommy Lee and finally trying to kidnap her near the end of the film. Cohen states that Kid Rock was so upset with the portrayal after a Nov. 2006 screening that it led to their divorce only weeks later.
The comedy star revealed more during the podcast. Here’s what you need to know about his interactions with Anderson and the relationship she had with Kid Rock.
1. Borat Tried to Kidnap Her in a “Traditional Marriage Sack”
The movie, which satirizes American bigotry and xenophobia, follows Borat’s journey across the country to make Anderson his bride. In the climax of the movie, Borat goes to one of her autograph signings a Virgin Megastore and attempts to put her into a “traditional marriage sack” to bring her back to Kazakhstan.
As humorous as the scene may be, it is actually based on a real Kazakh marital issue of bridal kidnapping. According to Cynthia Warner in her 2004 book “The Rise of Nonconsensual Bride Kidnapping in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan,” about 1-1.5% of current marriages in Kazakhstan are the result of non-consensual abductions.
2. Anderson Was One of Just a Few People “In on the Joke” in the Movie
“Borat” features several scenes of Cohen interacting with everyday Americans and trying to get a reaction out of them, meaning that several needed to sign contracts afterward allowing their likeness to be used in the film. Cohen confirmed to the Daily Beast that Anderson was in on the joke.
When Anderson was first asked how she ended up in the movie shortly after it came out, she demurred, telling the press, “I can’t really say. I’m sworn to secrecy.” And while she has since admitted that she was in on the joke, the notoriously secretive Baron Cohen has been hesitant to speak about it on the record—until now.
“She was the only person in on that movie, yes,” he told me during a live interview for the SAG Conversation series that will be released as an episode of The Last Laugh podcast next week. “Otherwise, it would have been kidnapping.”
Two other people in the film were actually paid actors. One is Luenell Campbell, who plays an Alabama prostitute who Borat invites to an etiquette dinner in Helena (Ala.). She is an comic actress known for roles in “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” “The Rock” and “That’s My Boy.”
The other is Ken Davitian, who plays Borat’s manager Azamat. He is an Armenian American actor who has appeared is other films such as “Get Smart” and “The Artist.” He is the one who runs around naked with Borat in the hotel.
3. Kid Rock & a Universal Exec Flipped Out at Her Portrayal
According to USA Today, Cohen and Anderson exchanged texts about her portrayal in the movie. After the Nov. 2006 screening, Kid Rock “flipped out.”
Baron Cohen alluded to past reports that Kid Rock flipped out after he and Anderson saw the film at a special November 2006 first screening at the home of Universal chairman Ron Meyer, and made no secret about loathing Anderson’s portrayal.
Baron Cohen said that he texted Anderson after that screening and asked, “How did it go? What did he think?” Anderson then texted back that she and Kid Rock were getting divorced. When he asked her why, Anderson replied, “The movie.
Not only did Kid Rock hate the portrayal, but Meyer apparently berated her at the screening. A source told CBS News in 2006:
“Bob started screaming at Pam, saying she had humiliated herself and telling her, ‘You’re nothing but a whore! You’re a slut! How could you do that movie?’ — in front of everyone. It was very embarrassing,” the source said. “Pam thought he could have a sense of humor about the movie. She was in on the gag from the very beginning and loved doing the movie. And on the eve of what was supposed to be a very positive thing, he made it an awful night.”
4. Anderson & Kid Rock Had a Contentious Relationship Before the Screening
Anderson had an on-again, off-again relationship before getting married in 2006. One of the other possible motivating factors in their separation surrounded her pregnancy, which resulted in a miscarriage in Nov. 2006. While the Borat screening might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, there were rumors that the couple only got married in the first place due to her pregnancy.
Kid Rock has since accused Anderson of lying about the miscarriage to People in 2007.
“I think they were a fantastic couple, so it’s a shame,” Cohen quipped on the podcast. “Much better than Julian Assange or whoever she dated later on.”
5. Cohen Called Anderson “Amazingly Brave” for Her Commitment to the Role
One of the other revelations during the podcast surrounded unintentional damage that Anderson suffered. He called her “amazingly brave” for sticking with the scene despite the accident.
He didn’t realize it during the scene, but when he tried to pick her up, she “clipped her jaw.” Calling Anderson “amazingly brave,” Baron Cohen said that she actually “lost two things” that day. “One, she lost a tiny bit of bone from her jaw,” he explained, “and secondly, she lost a husband.”
“Borat” resulted in several unintentional problems, mostly on a legal basis. Both the FBI and various police departments caught wind of what he was doing and started tracking his movements, according to Unilad.
[The FBI] got so many complaints there was a terrorist traveling in an ice cream van… that they started compiling a little file on us and eventually they came to visit us at the hotel. I obviously went missing when I heard because they were like ‘FBI’s downstairs’.
The actor admitted that he actually had to hire a man to protect him, the crew and even his wife, Isla Fisher after Kansas police said they’d arrest him if he carried on with his antics.
Despite all the lawsuits and police surveillance as a consequence of the film shoot, Cohen and Anderson’s collaboration seemed (mostly) smooth. It was just her aftermath that wasn’t.