Sacha Baron Cohen’s Next Target: Saddam Hussein. Very Nice

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Sacha Baron Cohen

Chris Pizzello/File/AP

The British comedian sets his sights on the late Iraqi dictator. It’s surely what Saddam Hussein would have wanted.

Sacha Baron Cohen has upset a whole host of celebrities with his mock journalist character of Ali G, the entire nation of Kazakhstan with Borat, and the fashion world thanks to Brüno. So he’s arguably on safer ground tackling somebody who isn’t alive. Baron Cohen is to portray a Saddam Hussein-esque character in The Dictator, which is inspired by the novel Zabibah and the King, apparently penned by the late Iraqi tyrant (Hussein might not have written it all, but he did put his name to it.)

(See pictures of Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous Brüno promotions.)

The cheeky Brit is also re-teaming with Borat and Brüno director, the acclaimed Larry Charles (who was heavily involved with Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) in this movie, which, according to an official release, “tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.”

The Dictator is set for release in May 2012 but what of the source text, which was originally published anonymously in 2000? A look on Amazon reveals that Zabibah and the King is the “allegorical love story between a mighty king (Saddam) and a simple, yet beautiful commoner named Zabibah (the Iraqi people). Zabibah is married to a cruel and unloving husband (the United States) who forces himself upon her against her will.” The book was set in mid to late 600 AD, but it’s unknown if the movie is going to be a modern retelling or not.

(See pictures of Saddam’s palaces today.)

The pressure might be somewhat on Cohen, who is becoming better known for his supporting parts in other productions (Gallic Jean in Talledega Nights, Signor Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, and the station inspector in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Hugo Cabret) rather than his own vehicles and he’ll be keen to bounce back after receiving some unkind reviews for Brüno.

But if he channels his outrageous, flamboyant side, not only could he have a hit on his hands but it should set him up nicely for his future project about another deceased public figure: playing the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. And as all these men know or knew, regardless of a flop or success, The Show Must Go On. (via Indie Wire)