On Sunday, actor Sacha Baron Cohen walked the Oscars red carpet in character. He played the fictional General Aladeen from the upcoming movie The Dictator, carrying an urn filled with the “ashes” of former North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Il.
During an interview with Ryan Seacrest on E!, Cohen stated it was Kim’s dream to attend the Oscars and “to be sprinkled over the red carpet and Halle Berry’s chest.” He said this just before tipping the urn to cover the E! News host with dust. (Seacrest later said it was pancake mix.)
The stunt followed rumors that Cohen was banned from walking the red carpet, at least while dressed as Aladeen. The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences quickly issued a rebuttal that no such ban was made (even though they might now regret it).
Seacrest handled the unexpected event well, calmly turning to the camera and saying “anything can happen and it most certainly did, all over my lapel.” Cohen, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Hugo this year, was quickly shuttled off the red carpet by security.
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Most stars took the stunt in stride. Tina Fey crossed herself over the spilled ashes as she made her way inside the theatre. Steve Martin said, “I love Sacha Baron Cohen,” and joked that the red carpet shouldn’t be sacred ground — “it should be 12% respect, 23% levity and 13% joy,” the BBC reports.
Cohen (or at least a savvy publicist) continued in character, posting to the Aladeen Twitter account:
Cohen’s true degree of victory will be determined with The Dictator hits theaters in May.