Producers of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” and Amazon Studios have been sued by the estate of Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans, who says she was interviewed by the star under false pretenses and appears in the film without her permission, despite that Baron Cohen broke character and revealed his identity during the filming.
UPDATE 10/26: The lawsuit has been dismissed by a Georgia judge. “The lawsuit was dismissed, unconditionally. The lawsuit is over,” Russell Smith, defense counsel for Amazon and whom also represents Baron Cohen, told TheWrap in a statement. “Sacha Baron Cohen was deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with Judith Dim Evans, whose compassion and courage as a Holocaust survivor has touched the hearts of millions of people who have seen the film. Judith’s life is a powerful rebuke to those who deny the Holocaust, and with this film and his activism, Sacha Baron Cohen will continue his advocacy to combat Holocaust denial around the world.”
The estate of Evans, who passed away in between filming the segment and the lawsuit, filed a complaint against Amazon and Oak Springs Productions for using Evans’ likeness in the mockumentary. And on Tuesday, the estate’s lawyers also filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the movie from being released on Oct. 23.
The lawsuit describes Evans as a well-known speaker, university professor and authority on the Holocaust and Jewish culture, as well as a Holocaust survivor. The lawsuit says she was not informed the movie was a comedy or a “Borat” sequel when she agreed to give the interview.
“Upon learning after giving the interview that the movie was actually a comedy intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture, Ms. Evans was horrified and upset,” the lawsuit says. “Had Ms. Evans been informed about the true nature of the film and purpose for the interview, she would not have agreed to participate in the interview.”
The lawsuit adds that the producers attempted to pay Evans and her friend for participating in the interviews but that both declined.
However, for the first time ever during filming of one of his movies, Baron Cohen revealed his true identity to Evans and informed her of the nature of the joke, which was not to mock the Jewish culture or her status as a Holocaust survivor but to do the opposite, TheWrap has learned.
An individual with knowledge of the film also says there’s footage that exists of this moment and that “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is dedicated to the late Evans. It’s not clear whether that particular footage is actually included in the movie.
“We have made multiple requests for any footage of Ms. Evans and the producers have refused to provide it. We do not have any further comment regarding Mr. Cohen’s characterization of his conversation with Ms. Evans until we are able to review the film,” her estate’s attorney Adam L. Hoipkemier told TheWrap in response to the detail that footage exists of Evans being told of Baron Cohen’s identity.
Amazon Studios had no comment on the lawsuit.
“Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is the sequel to Baron Cohen’s 2006 satire, which was a blockbuster hit and $262 million at the worldwide box office.
Baron Cohen revealed in an op-ed for Time Magazine that in filming the “Borat” sequel he nearly incited a riot from attendees at a guns-rights rally in Washington state when he performed on stage dressed as a right-wing singer and encouraged the crowd to sing along about the “Wuhan Flu.”
Deadline first reported about the news of additional footage from the film.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.