Sacha Baron Cohen got the audience good at the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards Saturday night when he pulled off a prank that shocked attendees.
As he was strutting around the stage, cane in hand a la Charlie Chaplin after being announced as the winner of the award for excellence in comedy, the actor “fell” into a wheelchair-bound woman who Selma Hayek had introduced as “Grace Cullington,” who as a little girl had appeared in 1931’s “City Lights” alongside Chaplin. As Cohen stumbled, the woman’s wheelchair was pushed to the edge of the stage and she tumbled out and onto the floor feet below, as the audience gasped in horror.
She lay still, face down on the floor as several people rushed to her.
It wasn’t until Cohen gave his acceptance speech afterward that attendees realized he had pranked them.
“Grace Cullington is the oldest, no, sorry, was the oldest surviving (Chaplin co-star). I dedicate my award to her,” the actor said as the woman was carried out of the room. “This is obviously a tragedy. She has upstaged me. But on the bright side, what a great way to go, giving an award to me. Thus, she’ll probably make the Oscars’ In Memoriam segment.”
But it turns out “Cullington” was actually a stuntwoman. IMDb.com does not list a Grace Cullington among the cast of “City Lights.”
This isn’t the first prank the comedic actor has pulled at an awards ceremony. At the 2012 Academy Awards, Cohen, dressed as Admiral General Aladeen from “The Dictator,” spilled what he claimed was an urn of Kim Jong Il’s ashes all over red-carpet correspondent Ryan Seacrest.
It’s in step with the comedy routines that made Cohen famous, which all involve portraying fictional characters who interact with unsuspecting people. “Da Ali G Show,” launched some of those characters like Kazakh journalist Borat, which later became feature film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” and made more than $261 million worldwide.