LONDON (Reuters) - British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen adopted his latest guise as an outrageous gay Austrian fashion reporter on Wednesday for the London premiere of “Bruno,” which hits cinemas in most territories next month.
Hoping to replicate the success of his surprise 2006 box office hit “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” the 37-year-old has been typically over-the-top in promoting Bruno.
On Wednesday evening he led a brass band and dressed as a camped-up member of the Queen’s guard, complete with towering bearskin hat, sleeveless red tunic revealing his midriff, ultra-tight black hotpants and knee-length boots.
Sticking to his habit of appearing only in character, he addressed the crowd in central London and called Bruno “the most important movie starring a gay Austrian since ‘Terminator 2,'” a joking reference to Austrian Terminator star, and now California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Cohen has also appeared naked on the cover of the latest edition of GQ magazine and last month staged a successful publicity stunt at the MTV Movie Awards in the United States.
After spinning in a harness above the audience at the show, he landed face down in the lap of rap artist Eminem, exposing his naked buttocks in the process.
Eminem stormed out, although he has since confirmed that he was in on the joke.
Asked about the GQ cover shot, Cohen told Reuters at the premiere: “I didn’t even know they were filming that. I would never have posed. I don’t try to get attention myself. The last thing I wanted would be to be the most famous Austrian since Hitler.”
Asked what he wanted to do next, he replied: “Ich really want to win a Nobel prize.”
And of his previous big screen incarnation, he said:
“You know, I just saw this movie called ‘Borat’. To be honest, I found it a really offensive portrayal of a foreigner. There’s a guy who acts it apparently called Sacha Baron Cohen. That guy is clearly gay.”
Fans flocked to Borat, a fake documentary about a Kazakh journalist traveling across the United States that used comedy to expose bigotry. It earned $128 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices and $133 million in other countries.
Bruno is also a “mockumentary” that follows the fashion reporter after he loses his job in Austria and goes to America looking to become a celebrity.
His unscripted encounters with everyday Americans and prominent figures, who think he is real, often prompt strong reactions to Bruno’s in-your-face sexuality.
While Universal Pictures, the studio behind Bruno, has said the film’s intention is to satirize homophobia, some gay advocates are worried that Cohen could reinforce negative stereotypes about homosexuals.
Editing by Jon Hemming