In “Brüno,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2009 follow-up to “Borat,” the title character and his boyfriend insert a series of household items into each other’s bodies, including but not limited to — an open champagne bottle, a spewing fire-extinguisher, and a hand-held vacuum.
When Sacha Baron Cohen’s grandmother saw “Brüno” in theaters, she saw none of this.
Baron Cohen, who plays legendary Israeli secret agent Eli Cohen in “The Spy” on Netflix right now, [told the New York Times in an interview that just hours before the mockumentary was to premiere in Los Angeles, he learned that his grandmother would be in the audience. “I called up [the distributors at Universal Pictures] and said: ‘Listen, you have to remove these three scenes from the movie,’” he told the Times.
“What do you mean? We’re screening it tonight! The premiere’s tonight!” Baron Cohen said distributors told him, panicking.
But he insisted. He claims that the scenes were cut, and the thousands who crowded into Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood watched a version of “Brüno” cut especially for the Baron Cohen family matriarch.
Baron Cohen’s maternal grandmother immigrated to Israel from Germany. His paternal grandmother was the British daughter of Eastern European immigrants. It’s not clear which woman Baron Cohen was talking about. What’s clear is this: one simply does not look at a woman who escaped Hitler and cobbled together a new life on foreign shores, and show her a video of a man launching himself into an anal cavity using a human slingshot. That’s just not how you treat your Jewish grandmother.
Baron Cohen said he ran into a “Brüno” distributor recently who told him that “the last 12 hours before the “Bruno” premiere were the worst of his life.”
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny