Minutes after Sacha Baron Cohen spilled “ashes” on Ryan Seacrest, he was visited by nervous Academy president Tom Sherak and Oscar producer Brian Grazer
Sacha Baron Cohen's stunt of spilling ashes on Ryan Seacrest on the Oscar red carpet earned the comic a quick visit from Academy president Tom Sherak and Oscar show producer Brian Grazer, who went to Baron Cohen's dressing room to make sure he didn't have any more disruptions planned for Oscar night.
The stunt began when Baron Cohen appeared on the red carpet as the title character from his upcoming film "The Dictator," an appearance that had been planned in advance and reluctantly approved by the Academy.
He did so carrying an urn that he said contained the ashes of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il – and during an interview with Seacrest, Baron Cohen upended the urn all over the front of Seacrest's shirt and jacket.
As soon as Baron Cohen pulled that stunt, Academy COO Ric Robertson (left of Baron Cohen in the video) and a security guard stepped in and hustled the actor away from Seacrest and off the carpet.
And when he got to the theater dressing room that had been set aside for him to change from his "Dictator" outfit into a tux for the show, Baron Cohen was visited by Sherak and Grazer.
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"My only concern, and Brian's only concern, was what would happen inside the theater," Sherak told TheWrap on Monday.
"So Brian and I went down to talk to him – and when we got there, he was Sacha Baron Cohen. He wasn't in character. And he looked us in the eye and said, 'I've done this, and now I'm going to the Oscars.'
"We said 'thank you,' we left, and that's the way it was. We just had to hear it from him."
Baron Cohen, he said, had a seat inside the theater, and did not make any further attempts to disrupt the show. He did not appear live on camera during the Oscar telecast, though he was featured in a film shot by Bennett Miller in which actors talked about their formative experiences at the movies.
And as for speculation that the Academy was somehow in on the whole stunt, Sherak is dismissive. "I'm telling you the truth, this is not a stunt that we were involved in at all," he said.
"We can have another conversation about how things happened and whether we overreacted – but trust me, it was not like we helped make this up."
Seacrest, who appeared notably unamused on camera, joked about the incident on his radio show Monday morning. "I am just sure it was pancake mix," he said. "It was ironic. I had been avoiding carbs all week."
(Photo by Heather Ikei/AMPAS)