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Spielberg chooses Cohen

SashaBaronCohen.jpgRecently Sacha Baron Cohen announced the death of two of his best comic character inventions, and some of us were mildly cheery of the news. Now it seems he's turning his hand towards a slightly more serious role, and in a Steven Spielberg film no less.

Now this is something that really will get me interested in Cohen much more than Ali G or Borat, as Cohen is to play an anti-Vietnam war campaigner.

According to the reports Sacha Baron Cohen is set to play Abbott Howard "Abbie" Hoffman in Steven Spielberg's new film The Trial of the Chicago Seven.

The news from Digital Spy tells us that Hoffman was made famous through the methods he used to protest the war in the late 1960's and the film will specifically look at the 1968 Democrat party convention where there were violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Hoffman was one of eight protestors who were blamed with the escalation of violence and of inciting a riot, one of the defendants was pulled off into a separate trial, hence the title of The Trial of the Chicago Seven. In court the defendants regularly abused the court, particularly the judge, and continually joked and pulled stunts such as dressing in judicial robes.

They were all found guilty, ordered to pay five thousand dollars and five years in prison each. This was later overturned in a court of appeal. Hoffman committed suicide in 1989 after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but not before he had pulled similar stunts to try and raise awareness.

It sounds like a really strong role for Sacha Baron Cohen, and a great project for Spielberg, which will undoubtedly have comparisons made with the Iraq war and the anti-war sentiments of many people who now feel that they can't protest in the same way for fear of imprisonment and detention without charge.

The Jolly Boys Last Stand (Filmstalker review) is the first almost serious performance I really saw from him. I always think that good comics make fantastic character actors, because that is normally what they are doing all the time. The classic example was Peter Sellers, and although I would never say that Sacha Baron Cohen and Sellers are of the same standing, Cohen is undoubtedly from the same kind of mould and I think he will do well as a serious actor.



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