Rebel Wilson’s memoir, Rebel Rising, comes out in a few weeks and on Instagram recently she’s been talking about one chapter of the book that details her experience with a “massive asshole” she worked with and then, just this weekend, named the asshole: Sacha Baron Cohen. 


They worked together on The Brothers Grimsby

Rebel's post
Rebel's post

SBC’s reps have since issued a statement to Variety

“While we appreciate the importance of speaking out, these demonstrably false claims are directly contradicted by extensive detailed evidence, including contemporaneous documents, film footage, and eyewitness accounts from those present before, during and after the production of ‘The Brothers Grimsby.’”


So what went down on that set? 

The Brothers Grimsby was in production in 2014. Shortly after, that same year, Rebel was on an Australian radio show where she talked about what it was like with Sacha on set. The Courier Mail covered it at the time

“Sacha is so outrageous,” said Wilson. “Every single day he’s like, ‘Rebel, can you just go naked in this scene?’ And I’m like, ‘No!’

“Sacha and I have the same agent in America and I’m like, ‘Sacha, I’m going to call our agent Sharon and tell her how much you are harassing me.’

“Every day he’s like, ‘Just go naked, it will be funny. Remember in Borat when I did that naked scene? It was hilarious.’

“On the last day I thought I’d obviously won the argument and he got a body double to do the naked scene.

“Then in the last scene ... he was like, ‘Rebel can you just stick your finger up my butt?’ And I went, ‘What do you mean Sacha? That’s not in the script.’

“And he’s like, ‘Look, I’ll just pull down my pants, you just stick your finger up my butt, it’ll be a really funny bit.’”

Rebel Wilson politely turned down the request, but she did offer Cohen a compromise.

“You don’t wanna be a diva so I ... said I’ll slap you once on the butt and that’s it,” said Wilson.”


While we don’t yet know whether or not this kind of behaviour and these kinds of requests are what Rebel is sharing in her book, it’s a strong possibility. Remember, this is a decade ago. Well before the #MeToo Movement. Well before the now open conversations the industry and the audience is having about safety and harassment on set. Back then Rebel told this story on the radio and nobody reacted, nobody called it out. Because our collective cultural awareness wasn’t as evolved as it is now in the present and so sh-t was normalised in these environments. 


If another actor, in 2024, talked about being the set and repeatedly being asked by a co-star to take off her clothes and to stick her finger up his ass, we wouldn’t and shouldn’t be laughing. We would be calling it offside. So, yeah, Sacha is worried. And his denial is worth unpacking. 

Does he mean to say that Rebel is making this whole thing up? That he never pressured her to take her to go naked and never asked her to stick her finger up his ass, for the sake of comedy? Or is he saying that she’s lying about her discomfort and that he has the receipts, “film footage” and other evidence to prove it? 


If that’s really the case, how reliable is the “evidence”? In 2014, Rebel Wilson was at the start of her career, and being cast as one of the female leads in Sacha’s movie – he wrote, starred in, and produced it – would have been a big break for her. If the writer, producer, and star of the film is encouraging her on set to go naked and also peg him, is she going to kick up a fuss and call her lawyer, or is she going to play it off like a joke and figure out a way to wiggle herself out of a gross situation without compromising her job security? 

Depending on what happens with these legal threats and her book, there may be a situation in which the book is released unchanged and Rebel’s accusations stand, in print. At which point does Sacha release whatever footage or evidence he has? If so, what lens do we view this through? Do we consider power imbalances and the ways that women and people of colour and other marginalised creatives have to negotiate themselves out of uncomfortable situations by making nice and ingratiating themselves to the power players even while they’re being belittled? Is there any nuance left for that perspective? Or will we accept his position that she’s a liar and keep it moving? All things to think about ahead of the book and the claims contained therein.