What’s Going on With Rebel Wilson and Sacha Baron Cohen?

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

First things first: I’d like to apologize for how many times you’re about to read the word asshole. It’s so crude! But it’s also Rebel Wilson’s preferred term for Sacha Baron Cohen, the man who she alleges harassed her so much that she had to devote an entire chapter of her upcoming memoir to him. Of course, he denies any of that ever happened. So what’s going on here? Let’s get into it.

How did this start?

Last month, Wilson posted a video to Instagram promoting her upcoming memoir, Rebel Rising, which comes out in April. “When I first came to Hollywood, people were like, ‘Yeah I have a no-asshole policy, means I don’t work with assholes,’” the Australian actress said. “It really sunk in what they were meaning by that, older people in the industry, because I worked with a massive asshole. Now I definitely have a no-assholes policy. The chapter on said asshole is chapter 23.”

Wilson has never been one to shy away from controversy, nor does she stand for misinformation. Back in 2017, she won $3.66 million in a defamation suit she filed against the Aussie media company whose magazines had published reports that she was lying about her age. Clearly, Wilson appreciates it when the truth comes to light.

However, her self-reported blind item didn’t exactly get the gossip hounds riled up. Perhaps that’s why she took matters into her own hands.

How do we know she’s talking about Sacha Baron Cohen?

Well, she told us. “I will not be bullied or silenced with high priced lawyer or PR crisis managers. The ‘asshole’ that I am talking about in ONE CHAPTER of my book is Sacha Baron Cohen,” Wilson wrote in an Instagram Story. That certainly clears things up.

According to Variety, in an earlier story, Wilson wrote, “Now the asshole is trying to threaten me. He’s hired a crisis PR manager and lawyers. He’s trying to stop press coming out about my new book. But the book WILL come out and you will all know the truth.” If this is true, Baron Cohen has totally misfired. I didn’t even know about Wilson’s book until this drama started, but now I want to read chapter 23.

Wait, what did Baron Cohen even do to Wilson?

Wilson had a supporting role in Baron Cohen’s 2016 movie The Brothers Grimsby. During an appearance on an Australian radio show in 2014, Wilson described Baron Cohen’s alleged on-set harassment.

“Every day, he’s like, ‘Just go naked, it will be funny. Remember in Borat when I did that naked scene? It was hilarious,’” Wilson said. “On the last day, I thought I’d obviously won the argument, and he got a body double to do the naked scene.”

When it came to shooting the last scene, however, Wilson claims Baron Cohen took things further. “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,’” Wilson said. “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.’”

In 2017, Wilson shared a similar story in a series of now-deleted tweets. “A male star, in a position of power asked me to go into a room with him and then asked me repeatedly to stick my finger up his ass,” Wilson wrote, according to a Huffington Post article from the time. She also noted that the man’s friends were laughing and trying to film the incident on their phones.

What does Baron Cohen have to say about this?

He’s going with all-out denial. “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,” a representative for the Borat star said to Us Weekly.

What else has Wilson said on her press tour?

The Pitch Perfect actress’s media blitz has been very successful. She’s talked about losing her virginity at 35, which she devotes a whole chapter to in the book. She’s talked about taking Ozempic (not for her). She also revealed that she thinks Adele hates her. All in all, she’s successfully managed to keep her book top of mind for those of us who read the tabloids every day — mission accomplished.

Should I read Rebel Rising?

Maybe? If she’s being this forthcoming on Instagram Stories, imagine how freely she’ll talk when she has 336 pages. However, it might not be so easy to get your hands on a copy if you’re in Wilson’s home country. Rebel Rising’s publication has been delayed indefinitely in Australia, after the book was supposed to come out on April 3. Fans who preordered the book had their orders canceled and were issued refunds. It’s unclear whether or not this delay in publication has anything to do with Baron Cohen, who Wilson claimed was trying to stop the book from being published.

There are very few details surrounding the holdup. HarperCollins AU told Yahoo Lifestyle, “Publication of Rebel Rising has been delayed but we have no further comment.” Yahoo also reports that the book has been pulled in New Zealand and the U.K., but it remains available in the U.S.

The Cut has reached out to Baron Cohen’s representatives for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

This post has been updated.

What’s Going on With Rebel Wilson and Sacha Baron Cohen?