Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen 'banned from filming at UN for fear of upsetting dictators'
SACHA Baron Cohen was banned from shooting scenes for his new film The Dictator at the United Nations because it might upset real-life despots, the comic has claimed.
The Ali G and Borat star plays Admiral General Aladeen in the new film, which he says is a parody of "ludicrous" tyrants such as Colonel Gaddafi.
Baron Cohen denied the role was an attack on Arabs and said the only people who would be offended by it would be "dictators and fans of dictatorship".
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The interesting thing is, when we asked to shoot inside the United Nations, they actually refused.
"We said 'this is a pro-democracy movie'. They said 'that's the problem - we represent a lot of dictators, and they are going to be very angry by this portrayal of them so you can't shoot in there'."
Baron Cohen was giving his first British broadcast interview as himself - rather than one in one of his comic guises.
He said that he had not done so in the past because he wanted to protect the characters as they went about getting people to make unguarded comments they thought would not be widely shown.
"When we were doing the Ali G show, from then onwards I realised that the moment I went on air and started talking about 'oh yes, I set these people up', there were photos of me, there was a chance that the interviewee would see the interview and withdraw consent for the TV show."
Baron Cohen said his characters had been able to "expose things that, let's say, a documentary finds difficulty in exposing".
The comic also talked about the relationship between his Jewish background and his comic career, saying that a "history of persecution" had meant that Jews had to develop a sense of humour, and citing US comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David and Adam Sandler.
But Baron Cohen, who has used his characters to expose apparent prejudice, said he did not think there was "much anti-semitism" in England.
He said: "I think relatively, compared to certain other European countries, it's quite minor. I never really experienced much."