Sacha Baron Cohen has described Donald Trump as a “demagogue” at the Los Angeles premiere of his new comedy, Grimsby, as studio Sony moved to deny reports it is burying the film’s US release for fear of upsetting the Republican presidential hopeful over an Aids joke.
Satirically borrowing Trump’s phrase, Baron Cohen wore a “make America great again” baseball cap and mockingly endorsed him in character as Nobby from the film. But he also attacked the conservative politician directly while introducing Grimsby at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood on Thursday night, according to Deadline.
Spy spoof Grimsby, which is being released in the US as The Brothers Grimsby, features a highly publicized skit in which Trump (along with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe) is revealed to have contracted HIV. Several British newspapers have reported the sequence being met with loud cheering at UK screenings.
Sony asked for a disclaimer in the end credits, reports said, but even here Baron Cohen shoehorned in a joke. “Daniel Radcliffe was not involved in this movie and does not have HIV/Aids”, the disclaimer reads, before continuing: “Donald Trump was not involved in this movie, but [long pause] … and does not have HIV/Aids.
There have been suggestions that The Brothers Grimsby has been lightly marketed in the US, with minimal billboard and television advertising. Baron Cohen has been promoting the movie himself by showing it to celebrities such as the Kardashian family and asking them to post their reactions on social media.
It’s been a while since Baron Cohen had a big box-office hit in the US, with 2006’s Borat the British comic’s only film to have passed the $100m mark.
Grimsby, in which Baron Cohen plays a Liam Gallagher-like football-loving buffoon who discovers his brother (Mark Strong) is a secret agent, debuted in the UK on 24 February and has so far been met with mixed reviews.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote: “Sacha Baron Cohen brings his B-game – or maybe even his C-game – to this moderate new comedy that basically defeated my attempts to like it.”