Baron Cohen's Dictator storms Cannes, camel in tow

Wed May 16, 2012 11:57am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

CANNES, France (Reuters) - It took no less than a live camel strolling the promenade in Cannes to steal the show on the film festival's opening day, a feat that comedian Sacha Baron Cohen pulled off with chutzpah on Wednesday.

The British satirist, star of "Borat" and "Bruno," used the novel public relations stunt to draw attention to the U.S. opening of his new film "The Dictator," in which he plays fictitious despot General Aladeen of the made-up North African country Wadiya.

As much of the international press was ensconced in a dark theatre to watch the debut film of the festival, Baron Cohen grabbed the attention with a sideshow just a few blocks away.

Dressed as Aladeen, the comedian emerged from the entrance of a prestigious beachside hotel flanked by two leggy brunettes wearing military berets and carrying fake Kalashnikovs.

"Don't shoot, please!" joked one photographer in the throng surrounding the actor, who remains in character for his publicity appearances and was dressed in an orange and green polo uniform, complete with boots, riding crop and military insignia.

"Relax, no pressure," Baron Cohen told the jostling crowd of photographers, reporters and overwhelmed police struggling to keep order. "I'm a dictator! I don't want anyone to get hurt."

But a mere dictator cannot necessarily compete with the flurry of stars, Hollywood deal-makers and others who populate Cannes during the festival. Enter Aladeen's camel, whose name according to a license plate on its bridle, is Wadiya 1.

His flashy sunglasses glinting in the sun and beads of sweat appearing above his fake heavy beard, Baron Cohen fell backwards as he tried to mount the camel, showing off his talent for physical comedy.   Continued...

British actor Sacha Baron Cohen walks on the Croisette during a photocall for his latest movie "The Dictator" in Cannes May 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier