Sacha Baron Cohen has revealed that he narrowly escaped being “beaten senseless” by far-right thugs while filming a controversial scene in Bruno.
Cohen recalled how he posed as an ultimate fighter in a cage match and challenged the audience to take him on.
A “fake ex-boyfriend” volunteered and they engaged in “some heavy petting” – which almost triggered a riot among the far-right audience.
“The crowd – including some recently paroled prisoners with swastika tattoos – erupted in homophobic slurs and started hurling metal chairs at us,” Cohen wrote.
“Had I not ducked into a trapdoor and out an escape tunnel, I think the crowd would have beaten me senseless.”
The actor said he had a similar experience while filming the sequel to Borat, when he pretended to be a right-wing singer at a gun-rights rally in Washington State.
“When organisers finally stormed the stage, I rushed to a nearby get-away vehicle. An angry crowd blocked our way and started pounding on the vehicle with their fists,” he wrote.
Had I not ducked into a trapdoor and out an escape tunnel, I think the crowd would have beaten me senseless.
He was wearing a bulletproof vest, but he said it felt “inadequate” as some members of the audience had semiautomatic weapons.
“When someone ripped open the door to drag me out, I used my entire body weight to pull the door back shut until our vehicle manoeuvred free,” he wrote.
Cohen made the comments in a wider article in which he condemned Donald Trump and hit out at conspiracy theorists.
The actor made his name in Britain with his Ali G character, and was further catapulted to global fame with the 2006 spin-off Borat. The film faced backlash from some quarters over its sexist, homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic “humour”.
He went on to create and star in Bruno about a gay Austrian character. Rashad Robinson, senior director of media programs for GLAAD, told the New York Times in 2016 that the film was “problematic in many places and outright offensive in others”.