Sacha Baron Cohen is infamous for his outlandish comedic personas like Borat, Bruno, and Ali G, but this fall the provocative comedian is leaving comedy behind and showing off his dramatic acting chops in the Netflix limited series “The Spy.” The 1960s espionage thriller casts Cohen as Eli Cohen, an Israeli clerk turned Mossad secret agent who goes undercover inside Syria. The limited series is based on a true story.
Netflix’s official synopsis for “The Spy” describes Cohen’s character as “a man who wants nothing more than to be of service to his country, but he does his job so well that he finds it hard to strip off his double identity.” The series co-stars Noah Emmerich (“The Americans”) as Eli’s Mossad handler, Hadar Ratzon Rotem (“Homeland”) as Eli’s wife, Nadia, and Waleed Zuaiter (“Colony”) as a military officer who thinks he’s found the perfect ally in the undercover Eli.
“The Spy” is the latest espionage series from Israeli film and television director Gideon Raff. The showrunner is best known for creating the Israeli drama series “Prisoners of War,” which inspired Showtime’s Emmy-winning “Homeland.” Raff co-wrote the pilot episode of the Claire Danes-starring drama and won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Raff most recently directed the Netflix original movie “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” starring Chris Evans.
For Cohen, “The Spy” marks a rare opportunity to show off his dramatic acting skills. The comedian’s career has been made up almost entirely of comedies and voice roles in animated films, with one exception being his supporting turn as M. Thénardier in Tom Hooper’s 2012 “Les Misérables” (but even then he was being used for comic relief). Cohen famously attempted to go dramatic in the past by starring as Freddie Mercury in a movie biopic, but the actor’s darker approach to the music legend did not get the approval of Mercury’s Queen band members. Cohen is currently an Emmy nominee for his Showtime limited series “Who Is America?”
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“The Spy” will be available to stream on Netflix beginning September 6. Watch the official trailer for the limited series the video below.