The Provocative Baron Cohen Clan
His new family may be one reason that Sacha has been moving away from his triumphant trio of faux journalists. In his determination to take his characters into extreme real-life situations, he has had close calls. In Bruno, the rowdy spectators at a “cage fight” became enraged when Sacha, portraying Bruno, passionately kisses another man. Sacha’s safety was compromised when angry audience members began throwing chairs and other objects at him and looked ready to lynch him. “He is risking his life making these movies,” Erran says. “That’s obviously a worry for any member of his family. He’s got a kid now. Some of those scenes in Bruno are incredibly powerful partly because it’s so dangerous to do it,” says Erran.
Just as fame caught up with Sacha in Britain, making it impossible for him to pose as an unknown journalist with celebrities, it has caught up with him in the United States. He has announced that he will be shifting to scripted movies and is currently in production with Martin Scorcese’s 3-D film set in 1930’s Paris, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, to be released in December 2011. He is also starring in a movie that his agent describes as an “untitled goat herder film” in which he is said to play both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator who gets lost in the United States.
The United States is also where the real Sacha has made his home for now. On the other side of the ocean, Erran remains in north London where the brothers grew up. He is raising his family there and, like Sacha, tries to maintain the traditions of the generations before him. “Friday nights are still an important family event,” Erran says, noting that he sends his children to Jewish day school.
At the same time he hopes to improve on a few traditions from his childhood, such as boring Hanukkah songs. In 2008, Erran released Songs in the Key of Hanukkah, in which the old stand-by “Dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay” acquires a Balkan gypsy hip hop beat. In the album’s music video, Erran plays one of two Hasidic Jews who gamble pound-notes in a dreidel game, spray-paint Hebrew graffiti and break into joyful dances. The dreidel game is played on a rooftop in east London near the neighborhoods where immigrant Jews once lived. Erran seems no more concerned about playing down his Judaism than his great-grandfather Chaim, who made sure his new countrymen would know he was a Cohen. Says Erran: “London is a good place to be a Jew.”
Sarah Glazer is a London-based journalist. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a contributing writer for CQ Researcher and CQ Global Researcher.