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I'm Kara Swisher, and you're listening to Sway, my guest today is actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. This year, he's been nominated for three Golden Globes, including for the Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago Seven. In that he plays 1960s civil rights activist Abbie Hoffman. But the world knows Baron Cohen best as the characters that have come before Aleg Bujak.
Check this out. Yo, Bruno. So why is being gay so out this season?
And of course, Borat. So. But I'm not. I'm a Borat. I like you. I like sex. It's nice. I love Borat.
Yet my personal favorite performance is one Baron Cohen actually delivered as himself, it was a keynote address at the 2013 Anti Defamation League summit. In it, he called out some of the biggest names in tech, the Silicon Six, all billionaires, all Americans who care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy.
This this is ideological imperialism, six unelected individuals in Silicon Valley imposing their vision on the rest of the world, unaccountable to any government and acting like they're above the reach of law, the Silicon Six, why didn't I think of that?
Yes, Sacha Baron Cohen and I share a hobby and it's calling out immensely powerful people. Now, let's talk about a group you called the Silicon Sex, and these are terms you coin for Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Susan would just give YouTube, Supachai of Alphabet, Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, also the founders of Google. You and I share a passion for calling out their nonsense. This is, of course, my job.
So why what motivated you to take them on?
So, listen, I've been told I've always been reluctant to be a celebrity. I've always been wary of using whatever fame I've got to push any political views. But under Trump, the racism, the antisemitism, misogyny that I hinted upon occasionally in the first Borat movie burst into the open. It was viewed by Trump is really being spread by social media, especially Facebook. And I was appalled by Trump's Muslim ban and the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
Therefore, when the ADL invited me to receive an award in 2019, I considered it for the first time this year. I had been wary of the dangers of social media. For a number of years. I had been trying to get other celebrities to talk about it because of my inherent reluctance and no one really cared. And then when I did bump into people from Silicon Valley Hollywood parties because, yes, billionaires want to go to Hollywood parties to meet celebrities.
Oh, I've been there with them.
Yeah, I would try and get them in a corner and say, listen, this is going on and, you know, this is going to lead to the end of democracy. I'd give them my whole spiel and their answer would be, oh, I thought you were going to be a bit funny. So at one point, I had quite a heated discussion with one of the Senate gallery opening in San Francisco about Holocaust denial, just asking why they were allowing Holocaust denial.
And they said, no, we're not. We've sort of that. And I pulled up a website. I went about this and it was a website saying that the six million was a lie and it was Holocaust deniers. And they said that that's just really just showing both sides of the argument. I said, what what argument? There's an argument about whether the Holocaust existed. And then you have this fundamental realization that a lot of these people, they're incredibly smart in a tiny area, but they should not be given the reins of power.
I mean, it's so mad that this handful of people have the power of emperors, right? It's this period will be looked on as absurd that governments did not intervene earlier, that these people were allowed to profit off spreading lies that lead to mass death.
OK, so you don't break into character often, usually Ali G or Borat or Bruno, but you decided to give this speech as yourself. Why?
Well, it was specifically that it was a year away from the election. And I believed that Trump and Trump ism would win again by spreading lies, conspiracies and hate through social media conspiracies about the election and through racism and hate. And and there was a predisposition for that stuff to succeed and be more digestible and watchable on social media. For example, as you know, YouTube's algorithm changed to make it more engaging. If people watch it more, they can increase the sales of advertising.
Right. Facebook and Google and YouTube are all about advertising. And the way to do that is you make the next thing that you see increasingly more extreme is this kind of radicalization algorithm, which is why I felt I had to say something. I didn't think it would have much of an impact. I felt, you know, my ambitions for my career were pretty limited. Growing up in north west London, you I wanted to join a theatre company called Theatre to Complicity.
So I never thought I was going to have my own TV show. I never thought I'd be given the money to make a movie. I didn't know anyone who is a successful actor, so by the time I got to 2019, I'd sort of accomplished everything that was beyond my wildest dreams. So I felt that that speech might end my career and he would say, what the hell is he lecturing us about something he knows nothing about? Just stay in your lane, stop being, you know, stop.
Just be funny. And by the way, a lot of the responses I got on Twitter and Facebook were just shut up and be funny and be funny.
Signor Lane. They do it to a lot of people. Yes.
A lot of that stuff is really organised by these troll armies. Yes. They know something about these armies of trolls are used to intimidate people on social media. So actually, it's not really a place where there's much freedom of speech because. Particularly if you're a minority or a woman or you say stuff that's to the left, you are bullied. So I felt compelled as a human, I was very reluctant to do it.
Well, it was it worked out well. And one of the things I appreciated in you made in the speech was the distinction you made. And I'll quote you saying this is not about limiting anyone's free speech. This is about giving people, including some of the most reprehensible people on Earth, the biggest platform in history to reach a third of the planet. I've spent years trying to explain why social media companies can't hide behind the First Amendment. Why do you think that's such a difficult message to get across?
Oh, it's difficult because they've been saying it for so many years. So they've been lying right. When Mark Zuckerberg just says I'm the defender of free speech. He is like, right. The US Constitution says that Congress, Congress, no companies, Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. So that does not apply to private businesses like Twitter and Facebook. If they want to ban violent rhetoric and harassment, they have every right to do so.
And the analogy I made in the idea was that if a neo-Nazi comes goosestepping into a restaurant and starts threatening customers and saying he wants to kill Jews, the restaurant owner has every legal, right and moral obligation to kick that Nazi out. And so to the Internet companies. So the idea that they are the defenders of free speech is is ludicrous. I mean, they make editorial decisions continually. They don't allow nipples, but they did allow Nazis. So, yeah, I mean, it's it's a lie, right?
It's a lie that they're using to make money, but it's a creator and comedian.
The First Amendment is critical to your work. Would you be OK with Twitter, for example, de platforming the Borat handle because it's not a real person or adding a disclaimer to a hateful or heated tweet? Would you worry about that yourself as a comic? No.
I mean, if they gave a handle explaining that it was satire, I think that's fine. I mean, but Borat is satire. I think the role of comedy is important. It's not as as important or as crucial as respecting and buttressing up the fundamental pillars that protect democracy. So, for example, there was a lot of talk by Zuckerberg to come out of the election about freedom of speech, which obviously I'm a huge defender of. But what about free and fair elections, which are the fundamental pillar of democracy?
No one is talking about that. And the Trump government realized that they could undermine that other pillar. There are a number of pillars that buttress up democracy. You know, one of them is protest. So free and fair elections is probably the most crucial one, particularly in an election year. And they were completely undermining it by spreading the stop the steal hashtag and beforehand by spreading the idea that mail in ballots were subject to corruption.
On January six, around five, you tweeted at Mark, Jack, Susan and Cynda saying it's time to ban Donald Trump from your platform once and for all. I did the same thing and was quite worried about what was about to happen as I saw it unfold. Did you think it was going to get this bad?
Yes, that's why I made Borat. Borat was an attempt of mine to do what I could prior to the election to infiltrate Trump's inner circle because I felt he was so dangerous and because I I was convinced that conspiracies would end in violence. I made a show called Who is America? Where I took a conspiracy theorist who believed in the danger of antifa. And by the end of the episode, which was I spent two days, then he believed that he had murdered three members of Antifa.
You know, it's a crucial thing where these people who were marching on the capital are not necessarily bad people. It's the people who are spreading these lies and conspiracies. If you believe in the conspiracy, then everything you do from there is logical. If you really believed or have been made to believe. Yeah.
If you've been made to believe that Biden was a pedophile and a cannibal and had stolen the election and Trump had won, then yes, it's logical to march on Washington and maybe to try and overturn that vote is the conspiracy theory. And those who spread it and make money that are at fault.
Where do you stop that think Trump should be banned outright from all these platforms, including YouTube, which is something you've talked about a lot?
Yes, I believe him permanently banning him. The world's largest platforms are banned. The world's biggest purveyor of lies, conspiracies and hate. The impact was actually huge. One study done by zinkernagel labs found that after Twitter removed Trump, there was a 73 percent drop in disinformation about the election on social media. So we don't want YouTube and Facebook or Twitter to. Their suspensions and allowed Trump back on to spread his lies and incite violence. You know, he still has complete freedom of speech.
He has probably more free speech than just about anyone in the world. He puts out statements that make headlines. He can go and give a speech any time he wants. But the idea that his free speech has been abridged is is ludicrous.
You can also make the argument, as several people have to me, is that Hitler didn't need Twitter. Mussolini didn't need Instagram. Stalin didn't need ticktock, although I can't believe I'm saying that in one sentence. But they didn't need these things and they managed to be as malevolent as they were. Do you think it amplifies the malevolence?
I really do agree with that. I mean, if you look at gerbils, the first thing he did was, you know, his social media was radio. He realized that was the new medium. And he realized that, for example, in Austria, if the Nazis took over a lot of the programming on radio, that they could make the invasion in the taking over of Austria easier. Fascists and autocrats are experts on new ways of spreading disinformation. They need them and they specialize and they focus in on these new media precisely because they're unregulated.
So that's what makes social media perfect for autocrats.
You have high hopes for the Biden administration or this Congress to do anything, whether breaking them up or changing Section 230 to prove liability protections. I know in your 2019 speech you suggested Zuckerberg and other social media CEOs should get jail time if their platforms continue to be tools of violence or election interference.
Yes, I think there needs to be regulation in virtually every other industry. You can be sued for the harm you cause. Publishers can be sued for libel. People can be sued for defamation. I'm still being sued by Roy Moore. We thought you. Yes, that's another story. But these companies can't be sued, right? Because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, currently Facebook and companies like it cannot be held liable for the death they cause.
I think that's completely insane. Right. So if you look at how it should work when Mike Lindale, the Mike Pillow guy who for those of you who use his wonderful product, went on Newsmax the other day and started spewing lies about the election, the host shut him down. Why? Because Newsmax can be sued by Facebook and social media companies spread the very same lies to millions of people because they're protected by 30. So you already have some exceptions to Section 230 social media companies, you know, that can be held liable for hosting content related to criminal conduct like copyright infringement, sex trafficking, prostitution and child pornography.
So my point is, if they could be held liable for enabling pedophiles who use their site to endanger kids, then why can't we hold these companies responsible for those who use their sites for advocating the mass murder of kids because of their race or religion? If your actions online cause harm or death in the real world, you should be liable. I think it's quite simple to fix this, which is instead of making money off lies that cost lives, I believe that these social media companies should create jobs that save lives.
Right. There are three problems that I think you could solve at once, one, which is even during the pandemic, Facebook and social media companies are making massive profits by spreading lies and conspiracies about covid and vaccines. Right. They are profiting off of death to Facebook and other social media companies. And when I speak to them, they go, Sasha, we're overwhelmed how we meant to do it. There's so much stuff being uploaded every day. They claim that their artificial intelligence captures most of the inappropriate content.
Right. But they claim that their real world content moderators can't keep up with the volume. The third problem is because of the pandemic, millions of people are unemployed. So my thought is hire these people. Why can't Mark Zuckerberg. Yeah, you're absolutely right. Why can't they hire hundreds of thousands of people to enforce their policies as content moderators? They can afford her. General Motors, at its peak in the 70s, employed more than 800000 people around the world.
Last year, Facebook made 86 billion dollars and they did it with 50000 employees. Facebook could hire Americans to help protect American democracy, hire Brits to protect British democracy in the same all over the world. Right. It would put people to work and stop the lies, save lives and buttress our democracy. I like this idea. Great. I was hoping you would.
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Most recently, Baron Cohen appeared in the trial of the Chicago Seven. The film is based on the true story of anti-war protests held during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Baron Cohen plays Abbie Hoffman, the founder of the 1960s hippie movement and an activist with a sense of humor, often found space for comedic stunts, even in the face of his highly politicized prosecution. I wanted to know what Drew Baron Cohen to the project and why he thought the story was still relevant.
50 years later.
Being connected to incarcerate for 13 years, and it's been getting increasingly relevant, and I think it's about the power of peaceful protest when standing up against injustice and the bravery of those people that do that. It's also about the persistence of systemic racism. The film shows the horrific treatment of Bobby Seale, who is the only black defendant. And we were actually filming this prior to the protests over the murder of George Floyd. And so really, it's a it's a tribute to anyone who stands up against injustice from Ukraine to Moscow to Kenosha to Portland.
When I read the script the second time, it was actually during the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. And the hearings were supposed to be about justice. But what we saw at the time was profound injustice to me. Professor Ford was swearing that her allegations were true. And I remember one of the committee asked Brit Cabinet to swear before God that what he said was correct and that was enough for the committee member. And it felt like we were seeing two parallel justice systems here, one a modern one, where she's appealing to fact and proper recollection and evidence and one depending on belief in God.
I mean, it could have been to have a thousand years ago. I couldn't believe that was happening. It seemed like a perversion of justice, a system that didn't work. And I felt more compelled than ever to play up.
Did you know the story of Abbie Hoffman before you took this part?
I first learned about him when I was studying in Cambridge, hosting my undergraduate thesis on Jewish activists in the civil rights movement. And I was particularly inspired by left wing Jews who went down south to fight systemic racism. Abbie Hoffman was one of them. He was a guy who was ready to sacrifice his life to fight against racism and fight for justice. And also what inspired me was he was a yippy. His antics and pranks got all the attention, but he was deadly serious.
You know, he was risking his life to fight racism and fight the war in Vietnam. But his conviction was completely pure and he was ready to sacrifice his life.
The film's writer and director, Aaron Sorkin, recently wrote that part of the reason it took 14 years for the film to be made is because he didn't immediately get Hoffman's character. Sorkin said, quote, I thought he was a clown, not particularly clever. And I wasn't seeing the heroism that changed when he saw archival footage of Hoffman at a press conference. A moment you recreate in the film what you think.
One hundred thousand dollars for the whole thing? Yeah, sure. I would have taken a hundred thousand dollars, as we're calling it, of how much is it worth you what you thought of the revolution? What's your price? My life. Talk a little bit about this moment of being a hero. It's interesting you were talking about Aaron in my first meeting with Aaron was 13 years ago, and this was the debate, actually, which was his Abbie Hoffman, a hero.
I felt strongly that he was Aaron at that time, thought, no, he was this fool. You know, it's telling that Aaron chose to replicate that scene from reality. So everything else is Aaron's painting rather than a photograph. He's using his brilliant screenplay skills to create this wonderful story. But there he recreates that scene pretty much word for word because he thinks it's crucial and so do I, which is underneath the layers of this clown in this seemingly awful is this deadly serious, brave protester who's ready to risk his life.
And the the antics were the more I read about him and I try to read everything I could and watch everything I could, I went down to archives and heard old stand up that he'd done everything was intentional without even his comedy. You know, he was very, very influenced by Lenny Bruce. Yeah. He tried to emulate the way that Lenny delivered gags. He was actually even influenced by Lenny's trial that convinced AP that they would go to jail.
It didn't matter what would happen during the trial. The eve of the trial was not to declare their innocence. It was to convince people back home that the war in Vietnam was immoral. And he was using these tactics of the Boufal, which is a type of theater that I studied under this French clown teacher.
That self is an absurd sentence to hear other years of French clown teaching. Exactly. But I did actually actually, coincidentally, my wife studied under his rival French clown teacher. But anyway, there's two there were two my SO I studied in LA called Philip Gaulier and my wife studied in Licorne Jacques Lecoq, and there was a very serious break off at one point where Philip Coulier broke off from his mentor, Jacques Lecoq, probably over a debate over noses.
I'm not sure. Right. Right. So but this guy, Philip Kolia teachers, actually, both of them teachers, some of the people in the world who teach this style of theater called Boufal Dofor is an early form of satire. It's a medieval form where essentially the dispossessed in medieval society who were generally forced to live outside the villages and they were heretic priests, gay people, Jews, those with disabilities were allowed in once a year. And they would try to put on these plays called Boufal plays that were intended to be really funny but were intended to completely undermine and destroy the powerful and the establishment.
And I felt looking at AP that he was a boufal like saying he would levitate the Pentagon, bringing thousands of people to do that.
Or so they were stunts. They were stunts that were of political science to be effective.
Yes, to be effective. And they were effective because as Aaron, you know, the final script brings in this argument with Tom Hayden. He says this is the reason we're doing that. We didn't have the resources. This is how I'm getting attention. The AP was incredibly aware of the media, and that was something that became very clear. And Aaron's later scripts where they're going to demonstrate where the cameras are inside the bar.
It's like the 60s never happened outside the bar. The 60s were being performed for anyone who looked out of the window.
He knows that the whole purpose is to get attention and get into the living room so he knows that they're not going to win, they're going to try and win the hearts.
What's interesting is you do that, too, and I hate to say it, this is something Trump does rather well. He plays for the stunt for the audience. His is malevolent. He's sort of the evil clown sort of clown from it, I guess.
I mean, yes, you know, Trump is a competition. He was very aware of the power of humor to engage his audience. I don't find it funny, but his crowd found him really funny. So, yes, you know, that's part of the reason why he was so effective and so entertaining. AP new that mocking the establishment would be his key. He used to say that sacred cows made the tastiest hamburgers and he realized that if he could make people laugh, he could gain attention and recruit more people to the cause.
I mean, everything he did, the more I read about him was incredibly intentional, even though he gave this kind of loose. Yes, right. Feeling, you know, even the length of his hair was an attempt to influence hippies to go out and risk their lives to demonstrate against the war in Vietnam.
Right. Hoffman is obviously a left of center character. This opens up him to criticism in the film. For example, there's a scene where his more buttoned up codefendant, Tom Hayden, calls him out on doing this.
My problem is for the next 50 years, when people think of progressive politics, they're going to think of you. They're going to think of you and your idiot followers passing out daisies to soldiers and trying to levitate the Pentagon. So they're not going to think of equality or justice. They're not going to think of education or poverty or progress. They're going to think of a bunch of stoned, lost disrespect for foul mouthed violent losers and so will lose elections.
While it strikes me that 50 years on this meme of progressive as idealistic sort of hippies and rabble rousers still exist, do you think it's fair to characterize Hoffman or modern day progressives like this?
Well, again, I'm not a historian of that particular period. I specialize more in the early 60s. But yes, I mean, Sorkin is a master. And, you know, what he's trying to do is bring these issues into the present. So, yes, this is about the debate between the left and the far left, which he beautifully encapsulates in the hatred of Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden. He actually got that from sitting down tonight, whether they were, in effect, these brothers, they hate each other at the end of the movie.
They they love and respect each other. I mean, I feel the change starts with pressure in the streets. They were both aware of that. He felt they needed to win elections, but they needed to push society to winning elections.
That's the first thing on your wish list, equality, justice, education, poverty and progress there. Second, if you don't win elections, it doesn't matter what. Second, and it is astonishing to me that someone still has to explain that to you.
But you do see this kind of Internet scene struggle within the left. I mean, we are far less effective as a force often because there is less uniformity. There is less there's less of an ability to say, OK, eyes on the prize, which the Republicans were able to do. You know, let's concentrate on winning the election and fall into line. Instead, there is often an attempt to destroy each other again.
And what's interesting is when you go fast forward, his life ended, sadly. Did you think about that at all when you were playing him, where he was headed since you knew the end of the story? Yes.
I mean, the truth is he battled depression and later took his own life. And I felt he was somebody who was struggling quietly. And I wanted to capture that seriousness and that subtlety, the contrast between his public dynamism and his sensitivity and occasional private pain. But, yes, I mean, it's hinted at and it's shocking when you see it on screen, you know, you find out what happened to all the characters and you find out that he died later on.
If you compare him to the rest of Chicago seven, you know, Jerry Rubin, I think he became a stockbroker.
A yuppie. Yeah. Remember he. Yep, yep, yep, yep. Yeah.
Tom Hayden obviously had a political career, but he never sold out, you know, and he remained true to his ideals. So I fell in love with him.
So you recently tweeted Borat is an absurdity and the Chicago seven really happened. But the message is the same. When leaders lied, people die. Can you expand what you meant by that?
Yes. I mean, these were, you know, first here's a tweet. So I'm trying to sum up stuff very quickly here.
Yeah, I'm familiar with Twitter. It's not the most subtle form of communication, which is why it's so effective. But, you know. Vietnam was a lie, right, there was there was no moral basis for that, and then with Borat, you know, I was trying to save these lies that were being spread by Trump, whether about coronavirus or about the election would lead to death and were leading to death. I was trying to create some connection between the two.
You did a lot of things in Borat, that and all your characters where you got them to do things like you got the key person to put Jews. Yes.
Jews who not Jews were not replace us, which was the Shah's thing. You put a series of conspiracies everywhere and they quickly take over.
You think it's unfair at all to do it that way, or do you think it's again, like getting back to Abbie Hoffman? It's a way to get out the truth from people to be doing these different things. I don't know what to call them. What do you call them? Are they pranks? Are they?
I prefer not to call them pranks. I mean, essentially what I do is I point the camera and people act as they do. So some people end up appearing dreadful. Rudy Giuliani didn't come out looking great. It's something that I realized very, very early on. The first time I did Borat, which was I took Borat when I was 25 years old to a pro foxhunting rally. And it was a way to get these members of the upper class to really say what they believed about criminals and ethnic minorities.
I said, you know, in my country were Jews would give them a head start, then we'll let them run. You think we should do it here and there? Well, I suppose if it was fair and you gave them at least 20 or so minutes, then yes, I suppose that, you know, so it was a fascinating insight to me. You know, when I started Borat first, I actually pitched it as a documentary. So I was going around the BBC and Channel four just go.
This is a new way to have these documentaries which are trying to shed light on topics, but on what people really think. Yeah, what they really think, what they're saying behind closed doors.
So speaking of close to us, I want to ask you about Giuliani. So let me give context. You filmed him. He's caught with his hands down his pants after a fake journalist, your co-star Maria Balaklava, had removed his mic after an interview. Was there any footage we didn't see?
And why did you not wait a little longer before bursting out of the closet to see what he would do? How did you make that call?
So that was a difficult call. So Rudy, we were told, was coming with a cop who he employs. As you know, Rudy has a tremendous amount of respect amongst the NYPD. And we were told that the cop would sweep the room as a result of that. We built a little hideaway for me inside a wardrobe. And I essentially stood there for an hour while the interview was going on. My only means of communication was a cell phone with the director and Jason Wallander and the producer at Heine's.
And so they were essentially saying, OK, go in. Now, as the this one time I actually went in there three times. The first time was in a room service trolley, which we ended up not showing. A room service guy brings in a room service trolley. I'm actually hiding underneath there. I poked my head out from underneath the tablecloth with a sign to my daughter saying, don't do it. And she's like, you know, and essentially, you know, Rudy was slightly suspicious.
Turns around. I had to put the tablecloth down. In the end, I removed that the second time I came in as a sound guy and the third time I came in to stop what was happening. But, yeah, I was relying on the Jason Wallner, the director and Heintz to text me and the warrant because we'd done everything to try and make sure that the interview went well. You know, we had hidden cameras, amazingly. By the way, Rudy, you know, the president's lawyer signed a contract in which he allows the use of hidden cameras so he's not the most diligent at reading contract.
Now, while we know that but the one thing we didn't have was enough battery in the phone. So I had about three percent of battery when I got in there, switched on the phone.
Do you wish you had waited longer to see what I thought you were correct in your thing? He, of course, denies it. Other people it was like a law.
It was like Internet detective work on the Internet, on Twitter for days and days. What he was doing precisely.
Well, I think what you saw is what he did is what it what it is. You know, I trust the audience and I want to watch the movie and judge for themselves. But essentially, I had to keep America safe. We had an escape plan. We I was going to run down the stairs for actually Rudy's bodyguard gets me and pushes me into the room and says, you're staying here to the cops arrive. And then suddenly I'm Borat.
I'm someone. You know, Borat doesn't understand what Cherrie's is. What does this machine with four legs, some. Borat has a real understanding of the law. Excuse me, sir, this is my room, I have paid for it. Under the law, you are not permitted in my room. You must leave now and say no, you're going to stay at him. No, that is false imprisonment. You are not allowed to. I am instructing you to leave.
And then essentially I left with the security guard. We ran down the steps. Rudy calls the cops, lies to them and says that a federal crime has been committed and as a result, the cops search the room.
Yeah. What is the fallout from the whole thing?
I think, tellingly, Rudy has not sued because he knows that he would lose. But, you know, it does make you wonder, what did Rudy try to do to other female journalists? And I think, you know, the wonderful thing about it was we had no idea how impactful or how pivotal Rudy would be in the final month of the election. And post-election, it's in spreading this lie. The fallout is that the whole world has seen really for what he is.
Which one do you prefer, the characters that you have or this sort of Abbie Hoffman, which is a more sort of pure acting experience?
I prefer playing Abbie Hoffman. I mean, I've loved playing Borat, but it's sometimes dangerous and there's no fun in going out when it's dangerous. I want this to be the last Borat movie, and it's far more enjoyable and relaxing to be an actor in the hands of other masterful screenwriters and directors. You know, it's nice having a trailer. It's lovely having craft services and chatting to, you know, the fantastic cast of Chicago seven in between takes.
You know, it's not a fun experience making Borat or who is America. It's difficult. My crew, the directors, my co writers and producers, they are they're taking not insignificant risks by going out and shooting at gun rallies where they risk arrest or being beaten up or. Sure. You know, we were told at that gun rally that if they found out that you were an infiltrator or not a believer, that they would get covid positive people to Spitzer.
You said that quite apart from the fact that so many people were carrying semi-automatic weapons. And finally, I got surrounded in the getaway car by an angry crowd who were who were carrying guns and trying to pull me out of this vehicle. Right. Well, you were an infiltrator. You know, it's it's not pleasant. There is some exhilaration when you managed to survive it. I think, you know, Maria Bachal over certainly experience there. You know, she was so nervous before every scene, but brilliantly pulled off everything.
We threw her and then she was exhilarated. But for me, it's a little bit more heavy because I escaped from the gun rally. And my main concern as a producer is, have the rest of the crew got out, you know, have we got the footage out and is everybody safe? So, no, I'm not returning to that style of comedy again. What are you doing next? I am not doing anything. Oh, I am unemployed.
I am taking a break.
All right. I have one last question mark, Jiachen. Soon I will speak in Congress again on March 25th. If you were on the dais, very briefly, what would you ask it and what character would it be?
I I'd probably ask them as myself, was it worth it was the huge amount of money that you've amassed, worth the destruction that you've on democracy and the debts that you've caused. Was it really worth becoming even richer?
I like Sacha Baron Cohen's voice of all of them.
Do you like the North West London voice? OK, yes, I like it.
It feels genuine. I don't know. Maybe it's not her. Thank you so much and good luck with the Golden Globes.
Alright, thank you for having me on. I'm a massive fan of yours. I listen to a podcast. I read your article.
Thank you so very much. Thanks a lot. All right.
Hsueh is a production of New York Times opinion, it's produced by Nyima Raza, Hiba Elbaneh, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Vishakha Darba, edited by Nyima Rozz and Paula Schoeman with original music by Isaac Jones, mixing by Eric Gomes and fact checking by Kate Sinclair and Michelle Harris.
Special thanks to Shannon Busto, lyrical Higa and Kathy too.
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