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Behind The Scenes With Sacha Baron Cohen

"...strip searched and questioned by seven police officers."


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With Sacha Baron Cohen doing all "Bruno" publicity while completely in character, understanding how he gets the footage he gets has been a carefully-guarded secret. It's not as if the real media can just ask Cohen a serious question about what happened behind the camera lens during this prank or that gag; he simply answers as Bruno talking about his real life.

But Universal Pictures recently released a fascinating look at how SBC and his crew compiled some of the outrageous footage that will be unleashed on the world when Bruno finally hits theatres. The filmmakers apparently adopted a motto while shooting "Borat" that they recycled for the making of this film: "Know and obey the law, and always have an escape plan."

This was guerilla filmmaking in every sense of the word. Here are just a few highlights from the film's official production notes.

On the Milan Fashion Show/Velcro Suit Scene:

"Not wanting to hedge their bets on one location, the filmmakers went to New York City, Paris, and Milan and secured credentials for multiple seasons of those cities' respective fashion weeks. The team made it to Milan Fashion Week in late September 2008.

Early attempts to get into other shows failed when security recognized and banned all the key players of the production. For their part, the Milanese police declared he would be arrested on sight... Their solution? Baron Cohen insisted that they change everyone's appearance and create an entirely new crew.

Director [Larry] Charles shaved his beard and modified his hairstyle; likewise, producer [Dan] Mazer cut his hair, as did other members of the Milanese camera crew. Complete with haute couture scarves and funky glasses, they became entirely new fashionistas to fit in with the others.

Baron Cohen found a hidden nook backstage and transformed into Bruno. He attempted to reduce his rapid breathing as, inches away, models and security walked by him in disguise. The performer knew that if he were discovered that the team's last, best chance of locking this critical scene would be over. Shortly after the show began, he seized his chance.

Bursting out of his hiding place and onto the backstage, Baron Cohen sprinted past stunned models and lunged by waiting security guards. Just as the team caught the footage they needed, security shut the lights off and dragged Baron Cohen off the stage. Police cuffed the actor and hauled him to jail while his fellow crewmembers chased him down. Baron Cohen was strip searched and questioned by seven police officers."

On the Alabama National Guard Scene:

"The production lucked into the scenario when they asked a contact at the National Guard if the production could imbed on-air talent for the day. They explained that the purpose of the visit was to let their audience know what it was like to live and work as a candidate in officer training school.

When the production's van came into the training ground, no one was asked for identification. The younger [real] recruits were not allowed to speak freely unless they received the go-ahead by a commanding officer. If they had given permission earlier, the senior members would have known what several of the 20- to 22-year-old guys did: The man behind Borat was in their midst.

[Later,] Once the crew heard the buzz that some of the young men suspected Baron Cohen was there, they packed up the team and got them out ASAP. As they were loading the performer into the van and driving rapidly off the base, the guards yelled out for them to stop and began to close the gate. Ten seconds too late, as Bruno (and the perfect amount of footage of his acting up during officer training school) were out the door.

Had the team been moments later in their exit, the National Guard could have confiscated the tapes and they wouldn't have seen the light of day. When finally confronted with the question, 'Did you know who that trainee was?' the recruits responded with a firm, 'Yes, sir! Sacha Baron Cohen, sir!'"

Whether these stories are factual accounts of what really happened during shooting or just more propaganda to further inflate the Bruno legend, perhaps we'll never know. And maybe that's the fun of it.

Decide for yourself when Bruno opens on July 10.

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