Sacha Baron Cohen
Both charming and entirely disarming when not in character, British-born satirist Sacha Baron Cohen made an unforgettable impression with his popular series, "Da Ali G Show" (HBO, 2003-06), which showcased him as three distinct personalities: boorish wannabe rapper Ali G, homophobic Eastern European TV personality Borat, and flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter Brüno. These three characters propelled the unknown Baron Cohen into a star, which in turn led to him becoming a major star with the surprise box office hit, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (2006), a mockumentary that caused a great deal on controversy while turning the actor into a sensation. Part of his appeal came from making the media rounds in character, which allowed for pushing the boundaries with unpredictable antics that bordered on performance art. Baron Cohen followed with his second "Ali G" spin-off, "Brüno" (2009), which again became another commercial hit. Press-shy when not working, Baron Cohen led a quiet life with his actress wife Isla Fisher. As he branched out to supporting roles in Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd" (2007), Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" (2011) and the adaptation of the musical "Les Misérables" (2012), Baron Cohen continued walking the tightrope with "The Dictator" (2012), where he played an anti-Semitic, misogynistic, capitalist-hating despot of a fictional country. With a blend of social satire and shock comedy that appealed to a wide swath of American audiences, Baron Cohen became one of the most successful and inventive comedians of his time.