Academy Award nominee Sacha Baron Cohen will play real-life Israeli spy Eli Cohen (no relation) in Netflix’s six-part limited series The Spy, the streamer announced Wednesday.
Eli Cohen, one of the most legendary spies in the world, lived in Damascus undercover in the early ‘60s, spying for Israel. He managed to embed himself in Syrian high society and rise through the ranks of their politics. His actions, connections and immense sacrifice have had lasting consequences, shaping the Middle East of today. In 1965, Cohen was rounded up from his apartment one night and placed on trial in a Syrian court. After being reportedly tortured and interrogated, Cohen was sentenced to death for espionage.
Gideon Raff, the writer of the Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning Showtime series Homeland, starring Claire Danes, will write and direct the limited series. Raff created the Israeli series Prisoner of War, which served as the basis for Showtime’s Homeland, which was adapted by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. Raff has won two Emmys for producing and writing Homeland.
Sacha Baron Cohen received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. He is best known for creating his hilarious characters and then staying in them during interviews, awards shows and other public appearances. He did so as Borat, as Brüno and, most recently, as The Dictator.
Cohen’s film appearances outside of those characters include roles in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and the Madagascar franchise. His next interesting character will be Mandrake the Magician, which is in development still. Cohen can currently be seen in Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity, which is available to stream on Netflix now.