Sacha Baron Cohen is the highest paid British actor in the United States, according to the UK newspaper The Sun. Baron Cohen earned £20 million (or $30.5 million American) last year with his roles in The Dictator, which he also
co-wrote and directed, and Les Miserables. He also provided the voice of lemur King Julien in Madagascar 3.
Baron Cohen replaces Robert Pattinson, who, thanks to the Twilight series, was previously America’s top earning Brit.
Baron Cohen, 41, first gained prominence with his HBO series Da Ali G Show where he played a number of outrageous characters who trapped various celebrities into awkward situations with his line of questioning. He achieved big screen success with the 2006 mockumentary Borat, which he co-wrote and directed, in which he played a confused Kazakh journalist traveling through the United States recording real-life interactions with Americans. The film was a box office hit and earned Cohen the Best Actor award from the Los Angeles Society of Film Critics, a Golden Globe Award, and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Baron Cohen was born in Israel, and first acted in theatrical productions featuring the Socialist-Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror. He spent a year in Israel at KibbutzRosh HaNikra and Kibbutz Beit HaEmek as part of the Shnat Habonim Dror, as well as taking part in the program Machon L’Madrichei Chutz La’Aretz for Jewish youth movement leaders.
“I wouldn’t say I am a religious Jew,” Baron Cohen has said. “I am proud of my Jewish identity and there are certain things I do and customs I keep.” He tries to keep kosher and attends synagogue about twice a year.