British comedy actor Sacha Baron Cohen was escorted off the Oscars red carpet after a publicity stunt for his new film, The Dictator.
Sacha Baron Cohen arrived in character as a middle eastern leader and claimed to be carrying the ashes of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
In an interview with US TV host Ryan Seacrest, Sacha Baron Cohen said it was Kim Jong-Il’s dying wish “to be sprinkled over the red carpet and over Halle Berry’s chest”.
He then tipped the urn over the host, covering his tuxedo in white dust.
Sacha Baron Cohen, who is known for outrageous publicity stunts in films like Borat and Bruno, was bundled off the red carpet by security guards.
Turning to the camera, Ryan Seacrest said: “Anything can happen and it most certainly did, all over my lapel.”
Sacha Baron Cohen’s film, The Dictator, is expected to be released in March. He was invited to the Oscars as a cast member of Martin Scorsese’s multiple award nominee Hugo.
There had been reports during the week that he had been forbidden to attend the ceremony after asking to arrive in character as Admiral General Aladeen – which the Academy denied.
In response, Sacha Baron Cohen posted a statement to General Aladeen’s Twitter account.
“VICTORY IS OURS! Today the Mighty Nation of Wadiya triumphed over the Zionist snakes of Hollywood.
“Evil and all those who made Satan their protector were vanquished and driven into the Pacific Sea. What I am trying to say here is that the Academy have surrendered and sent over two tickets and a parking pass! TODAY OSCAR, TOMORROW OBAMA!”
After the red carpet stunt, Moneyball actor Jonah Hill, who was up for best supporting actor, said: “I guess the Oscars isn’t the best place to sell your movie. I think he’s a funny guy, though.”
“Ryan’s mouth dropped open on live TV,” laughed Jackie Collins.
“But that’s what makes live TV good.
“I don’t think Ryan was very pleased, but I don’t think I’d be very pleased.”
Piers Morgan commented it was “just another day in Hollywood”.
30 Rock actress Tina Fey saw the funny side, and crossed herself over the ashes as she walked past.
Speaking to BBC 5 live, Jay Leno said: “Only in Hollywood does that dictator override Libya” as a major news story.
“And somehow that’s more shocking.
“It’s certainly worse than anything Gadaffi or Assad could possibly have done.”
Comedian Steve Martin said: “I love Sacha Baron Cohen”, and joked that the red carpet shouldn’t be sacred ground.
“It should be 12% respect, 23% levity and 13% joy.”
It is not the first time Sacha Baron Cohen has used industry events to promote his movies.
In 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen arrived at the Toronto International Film Festival dressed as Borat, the main character from the hit comedy.
In 2009, Sacha Baron Cohen went to the MTV Video Music Awards as flamboyant fashion critic Bruno, to promote his movie of the same name.
During the show Sacha Baron Cohen was launched into the air wearing a harness and landed in the lap of US rap star Eminem, who stormed out – although it was later reported that the musician had been in on the joke.