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Mercurial Sacha Baron Cohen Takes on Freddie Mercury: Performance or Impersonation?

Thompson on Hollywood By Carrie Rickey | Thompson on Hollywood May 25, 2012 at 1:23PM

Trying to take the measure of Sacha Baron Cohen, who has played a Kazakh journalist visiting the US in "Borat," an Austrian fashionista voguing in "Bruno," a North African dictator demoted to ordinary US immigrant in "The Dictator." His Halloween parade of beards and costumes and accents makes it hard to tell if he’s an actor or an impersonator...
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Sacha Baron Cohen

Trying to take the measure of Sacha Baron Cohen, who has played a Kazakh journalist visiting the US in "Borat," an Austrian fashionista voguing in "Bruno," a North African dictator demoted to ordinary US immigrant in "The Dictator." His Halloween parade of beards and costumes and accents makes it hard to tell if he’s an actor or an impersonator.

There is a difference. An actor drills down into the inner life of a character; an impersonator focuses on the externals. Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardiner in "Being There": Actor. Peter Sellers in the the triple roles as aviator, president and warmonger in "Dr. Strangelove": impersonator. Frequently compared to Sellers, Baron Cohen is destined to inherit his mantle of "international comedian.”

Read the rest of Rickey's original post here.

This article is related to: Sacha Baron Cohen, comedy, Critics, Headliners


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.