What has Rebel Wilson said about working with Sacha Baron Cohen?

The Pitch Perfect star has named the Borat actor as the previously unidentified ‘a**hole’ who allegedly tried to block her memoir.

Grimsby Year : 2016 UK / Australia Director : Louis Leterrier Sacha Baron Cohen, Rebel Wilson
Rebel Wilson has called The Brothers Grimsby co-star Sacha Baron Cohen an a**hole. (Columbia Pictures/Alamy)

Rebel Wilson has named Sacha Baron Cohen as the "a**hole" who tried to block her publishing her memoir.

The two comedians worked together when Wilson starred as Baron Cohen's wife in his 2016 film The Brothers Grimsby. The Pitch Perfect star is due to publish her autobiography Rebel Rising in April and has spoken out on social media about being "bullied" with the threat of legal action for an "a**hole" she writes about working with. The Australian actor has named the subject of that chapter as Borat star Baron Cohen.

A spokesperson for Baron Cohen told Yahoo UK: "While we appreciate the importance of speaking out, these demonstrably false claims are directly contradicted by extensive detailed evidence, including contemporaneous documents, film footage, and eyewitness accounts from those present before, during and after the production of The Brothers Grimsby."

With Wilson, 44, battling to publish her opinions about the Ali G star, we look back at all the comments she has shared about working with Baron Cohen in the past.

Twice as talented

THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY, from left: Rebel Wilson, Sacha Baron Cohen, 2016. /© Columbia Pictures /courtesy Everett Collection
Rebel Wilson played Sacha Baron Cohen's wife in The Brothers Grimsby. (Columbia Pictures/Alamy)

Wilson teased during a promotional interview for The Brothers Grimsby that she was a more talented actor than Baron Cohen, as she had perfected a Grimsby accent in half the time it took him.

She said: "Sacha was like, 'We want Dawn to be a very authentic Northern girl.' He was like ‘Rebel, it took me a month to get the accent so you have to work really hard’. It took me two weeks – half the time that it took Sacha. Would you say I’m twice as talented as Sacha? According to those statistics, yes."

Pressure to bare all

Rebel Wilson attends the 2024 AACTA Awards Presented By Foxtel Group at HOTA (Home of the Arts) on February 10, 2024 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for AFI)
Rebel Wilson claimed she was put under pressure to appear nude in the film. (Getty Images for AFI)

Wilson told Marie Claire magazine in 2016 that Baron Cohen had put pressure on her to break her own 'no nudity' clause for The Brother's Grimsby.

"They wanted full-frontal nudity. We write it in the contract, specifically, 'No nudity'.

"They got in another girl — this larger burlesque dancer from South Africa — to be a nude double. And they got her to do all this stuff. Sacha would go, 'See, she looks good'. I'm like, I'm not doing it. I don't care what you say!"

In an excerpt from her memoir, Wilson spoke in more detail about this and, per Digital Spy, wrote: "t felt like every time I’d speak to SBC, he’d mention that he wanted me to go naked in a future scene. I was like, ‘Ha, I don’t do nudity, Sacha'."

Harassment allegations

Sacha Baron Cohen as Norman 'Nobby' Grimsby attending the World Premiere of Grimsby held at Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London
Sacha Baron Cohen attended the Grimsby premiere in character. (PA)

Wilson spoke again about the pressure she felt from Baron Cohen to appear nude in the film Australian radio hosts Kyle and Jackie O on Kiis FM in 2014.

During the interview called Baron Cohen "outrageous" and said she was going to tell her agent he had been "harassing" her to appear nude in the film. She even claimed that he had made a lewd request for her to perform a sexual act that was not scripted during filming for one scene in the movie: “Sacha is so outrageous. Every single day he’s like, ‘Rebel, can you just go naked in this scene?’ And I’m like, ‘No!’

"Sacha and I have the same agent in America and I’m like, ‘Sacha, I’m going to call our agent Sharon and tell her how much you are harassing me. Every day he’s like, ‘Just go naked, it will be funny. Remember in Borat when I did that naked scene? It was hilarious.’ On the last day I thought I’d obviously won the argument, and he got a body double to do the naked scene.”

Wilson went on: "Then in the last scene … he was like, ‘Rebel can you just stick your finger up my butt?’ And I went, ‘What do you mean Sacha? That’s not in the script.’ “And he’s like, ‘Look, I’ll just pull down my pants, you just stick your finger up my butt, it’ll be a really funny bit.'”

In an excerpt from her book, Wilson said: "[Sacha] pulls his pants down ... SBC says very matter-of-factly: ‘Okay, now I want you to stick your finger up my a**.’ And I’m like, ‘What?? ... No!!’

"I was now scared. I wanted to get out of there, so I finally compromised: I slapped him on the ass and improvised a few lines as the character."


Grimsby Agent trop special Grimsby The brothers Grimsby 2016 Real Louis Leterrier Sacha Baron Cohen Rebel Wilson. Collection Christophel © Big Talk Productions / Columbia Pictures
Rebel Wilson shrugged of the film as 'Sasha's thing'. (Columbia Pictures/Alamy)

In an interview with Steve Wright for BBC Radio 2 in February 2016, Wilson appeared to play down her enthusiasm for The Brothers Grimsby, dismissing her part as a "small role" and calling it "Sacha's thing."

Wilson told Wright: "I have seen the cut of the film and basically if you're a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen's I think you'll really like it. But I just have a small role in that. It's Sacha's thing and he takes the reins on it. But it was really interesting to see how he worked after being a fan of thing like Ali G and Borat."

Sacha Baron Cohen poses at
Sacha Baron Cohen at a photocall for The Brothers Grimsby in Paris. (Getty Images)

Wilson did not attend any public screening or photo call events for The Brothers Grimsby.

Read more: Rebel Wilson and Sacha Baron Cohen

Watch: Rebel Wilson to share 'deep secrets' in upcoming memoir