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BRUNO

Roof Jumps and Broken Heels: Fame Is Painful
In Brüno's quest to be über famous, he would find some curious interview subjects. None were more fascinating, however, than those who should be much more media savvy: celebrities. From Paula Abdul and La Toya Jackson to Brittny Gastineau and Ron Paul, Baron Cohen managed to have singers, reality stars and politicians say and do more on camera than you can even imagine.

One of the more astonishing social experiments was the use of "Mexican Chair People.” The team had staged an outrageous gag in which Brüno realizes he has no furniture upon which to seat his subjects. What to use as chairs and benches? Latino gardeners, of course. Naturally, they didn't expect anyone to actually sit upon the men (all of whom are stuntmen and actors) without serious pressure being applied. It proved to be stunningly easy to get compliance from the talent. Every celebrity sat right down.

American Idol judge Paula Abdul and infamous Jackson sister La Toya Jackson agreed to be interviewed by Herr Brüno and sit on the help. Both were very game to rest on the backs of the supposed day laborers. Hard to comprehend? Director Charles helps piece it together; he believes it is human nature to want to have our egos fed and we'll forgive "small” transgressions in the process.

From his work on such films as Borat and Religulous, Charles realized that, simply put, people just want to be interviewed. With on-air talent, they believe it is part of their job to promote their project, and neither they nor their publicity team need to be too fastidious about the details.

For regular people, the rule of "everybody wants a little piece of fame” applies. With many subjects, if you put a camera in front of and a lapel mike upon them, they'll say whatever they're thinking for the possibility of 15 minutes of attention. While Abdul, Jackson and Gastineau were interviewed in Los Angeles, the production spent time in Washington, D.C., to get the thoughts of a certain politico. During the time period he was running for U.S. president, Ron Paul was interviewed for the film

It was an elaborate, risky set-up on the part of the Brüno team. They had to deal with U.S. Capitol police and Secret Service, not to mention the army of handlers working with Paul. As soon as the interview wrapped (and Paul stormed off the set), Baron Cohen was whisked out of the suite, into a fake police car, and onto a flight headed for New York City.

The arduous work of shooting Brüno finally took its toll. The performer was bedded by a case of the flu and wasn't permitted to fly. Production had to shut down for two days. Though not fully recovered, he was propped up long enough to shoot the Mexican Chair bit, then flown to Kansas for integral scenes in which he was manacled to Gustaf Hammarsten as they made their way through a hotel and a mall.

During the hotel room scene in which Baron Cohen and Hammersten were chained together on the bed, word arrived that the police were in the lobby. As Kansas City's finest rode up the elevator, both men made a mad dash down the emergency exit staircase. To their alarm, they discovered the staircase ended at the second story. They were trapped.

It was time to choose between facing the police (read: possible arrest and deportation for the Europeans) and a 15-foot leap to freedom. Both men took the plunge and fled into the escape vehicle.

Baron Cohen was officially down for the count. His antibiotics gave him thrush. The hair depilatory he was using gave him a strong reaction. After recovering from sinus infections, and forcing himself to recover, Brüno was back in action. Until his alter ego broke a heel while wearing platform boots during a Stunt in the Midwest and production had to shut down for another seven weeks.

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