Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines when he surprised theater owners at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week, storming into Caesar's Palace dressed as Gen. Adm. Aladeen and ragging on Hollywood executives and studios.
Anna Faris, the actor's costar in "The Dictator" — about the ruler of the fictional Republic of Wadiya — said she was just as taken aback as the crowd by his antics. Cohen didn't inform her about the publicity stunt in Las Vegas — nor the one he pulled with Ryan Seacrest at the Academy Awards earlier this year — because Faris says she barely talks to the actor out of character.
"In fact, when my husband [Chris Pratt] and I went to the Oscars, I saw [Sacha] ahead of me and I was like, 'Honey, we just have to avoid him.' I just knew that he was going to be up to something," the actress recalled last week at CinemaCon, where she was named comedy star of the year.
Working on set with Cohen, Faris said, was often bizarre because the actor would only be addressed as "Supreme Leader."
"You definitely know when he's on set. It's like, 'Oh, OK, he's here now,'" she said. "He's incredibly kind, but he was in character most of the time. ... It is really weird."
In the film, Faris plays the owner of a Brooklyn co-op who helps guide the general when he is stranded in New York City. It was an unglamorous role for the actress, who grew out her armpit hair and donned a short, brown wig for the part.
"It was a fun, liberating look — it has an androgynous feel," she explained. "She just doesn't really have any concern for wardrobe or fashion. I loved it. For an actress, it was like, 'Oh, OK, so I can have the doughnuts at craft service.' "
— Amy Kaufman
Photo: Anna Faris is named comedy star of the year at CinemaCon 2012. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press.