Clint Eastwood

“I told Clint I have food poisoning”: Sacha Baron Cohen’s Cousin Convinced Harry Potter Star To Leave Clint Eastwood’s $159M Movie Set That Could Have Backfired Massively

While Sacha Baron Cohen is a thoroughly well-known actor cum producer, his elder cousin Ash Baron Cohen is a genius filmmaker in the entertainment industry. Though not known by too many people and credited with less than a handful of movies produced throughout his career, the latter still once managed to convince renowned Harry Potter star and late actor Richard Harris to leave the sets of Clint Eastwood’s $159 million movie.

Filmmaker Ash Baron Cohen
Filmmaker Ash Baron Cohen

Although it could’ve seriously backfired on him considering how it was only the beginning of his career and Harris was already a well-established celebrity, Ash Baron Cohen still took the chance and managed to get him to do a cameo for free for him.

How Ash Baron Cohen Managed To Meet Richard Harris While He Was Still In Film School

Richard Harris as Dumbledore
Richard Harris as Dumbledore

This goes back to when Ash Baron Cohen was still in film school, and Richard Harris was shooting Clint Eastwood’s $159 million movie Unforgiven at the same time. Sharing in an interview with Esquire his first meeting with the late legend, he said,

“I went to the Sunset Marquis to sneak into their pool. I was going to be confident, stride toward the pool, and take a few dives. As I walked in, I saw Richard Harris on his balcony. Very regal. That shock of white hair. He looked like King Arthur.”

But everyone is rather notorious during their early years and Baron Cohen’s cousin was no exception: He somehow managed to set a meeting with the Dumbledore portrayer.

“So I picked up the house phone — I thought I’d just take a chance — and I asked for his suite. Then I heard this voice — ‘Who the f–k is this?’ I said, ‘Look, I don’t know anyone in this town.’ I asked for five minutes of his time. He said, ‘Be here at 7:00 A.M. tomorrow for breakfast.’”

And so he was. However, he wasn’t done yet, for he had one more mission to accomplish: Get Richard Harris to do a cameo in his student production film for free while shooting Clint Eastwood‘s movie!

Ash Baron Cohen Took The Risk And Convinced Richard Harris To Leave The Unforgiven Set

Richard Harris in a still from Unforgiven (1992)
Richard Harris in a still from Unforgiven (1992)

Continuing, Ash Baron Cohen proceeded to share how he took the chance and asked the late star to leave the sets of Eastwood’s $159 million movie for a day to do a free cameo for his student production, The Sex Police. Though a shot in the dark, it hit the perfect spot, for Richard Harris agreed. Cohen shared with Esquire,

“I said, ‘I’m shooting a student film, would you consider doing a cameo?’ He said, ‘Write me out a scene.’ So I went home and for some reason, I thought, I’ll write a scene about the etymology of the word cunt. Either he’s going to throw me out or he’s going to be intrigued. I came back the next day. He said, ‘Brilliant. Let’s shoot it tomorrow.’ He was shooting Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood, and he said, ‘I told Clint I have food poisoning and can’t come to work today.’”

But that wasn’t all. That day must have been Baron Cohen’s lucky day, for he not only managed to dodge the risky bullet he had shot but also earned a commendation from the Camelot star.

“When we got back to his hotel that night, he called up Clint. He said, ‘I didn’t have food poisoning. I was with a young filmmaker, and we were running around on the beach. There were seven people there doing the whole thing, and even I was holding my own light.’ He goes, ‘That was real filmmaking, Clint.’”

Turns out Harris certainly wasn’t wrong, for though Ash Baron Cohen produced less than a handful of projects throughout his career like Pups and Bang, he has been appreciated for them to a great extent – a fitting title he well deserves.

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