It’s tradition for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to announce The Academy Awards presenters in the days and weeks leading up to the big show. Sacha Baron Cohen was one of those presenters, who, along with Olivia Wilde, presented a highlight reel for one of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Room. The actor appeared in a traditional tuxedo during the red carpet coverage, but when it came time to present, Olivia Wilde was joined by none other than Ali G, one of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s beloved characters from Da Ali G Show. On Monday, the actor appeared on the U.K. talk show Good Morning Britain, where he revealed he was explicitly told not to present in character.
“The truth is we actually had to sneak it in, because the Oscars sat me down before and said they didn’t want me to do anything out of order, they wanted me to actually just present it as myself. But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets, and I managed to get away with it.”
The actor’s wife, Isla Fisher, revealed they had to lock themselves in the bathroom for 40 minutes to put on the beard, and that they told others trying to get into the bathroom that Sacha Baron Cohen had food poisoning. Deadline actually obtained video from the bathroom, which shows Isla Fisher applying the fake goatee onto her husband. While we aren’t sure who actually shot the video, it was apparently made with the actor’s consent.
No one, including the Oscar producers and his co-presenter, Olivia Wilde, knew that he was going to come on stage as Ali G. The actor did reveal that he got the thumbs up for this bit from host Chris Rock. Here’s what the actor had to say, admitting that he was nervous about how the crowd would react, but he went on with the bit after getting Chris Rock‘s approval.
“I mean, there were a few moments I was a bit worried how they’d react to the first gag. But I bumped into Chris Rock actually on the way on and pitched him the gag, and he gave me the thumbs up, so I went for it.”
This isn’t the first time the actor has courted controversy at the Oscars. In 2012, Sacha Baron Cohen caused quite a stir appearing on the Oscar red carpet dressed as his character from the comedy The Dictator, General Alladeen. He even dumped what he claimed were an urn filled with dictator Kim Jong-il’s ashes on Ryan Seacrest. Click on the image to view the video from the Oscar bathroom, and, in case you missed it on Oscar Sunday, you can check out the video from the awards ceremony below.