Sacha Baron Cohen has taken legal action against a US cannabis dispensary for using his Borat character on a billboard.
The British star’s fictional Kazakh journalist featured on an advert in Massachusetts promoting Solar Sustainable Cannabis giving the thumbs up alongside his ‘It’s nice!’ catchphrase.
Baron Cohen, 49, is seeking damages of at least 9 million dollars (£6.5 million) and has asked a judge to order Solar Therapeutics to stop using his likeness.
The lawsuit says he has never used cannabis and would not advertise the drug for any amount of money.
The legal action, filed in Massachusetts, accuses Solar Therapeutics of copyright infringement and false advertising.
It states that Baron Cohen does not believe the drug is a ‘healthy choice’ and his Ali G character – a white, suburban wannabe rapper – was a ‘mockery of “stoner” culture’.
And Baron Cohen, described in the lawsuit as an observant Jew, does not want to enter the ‘heated’ debate surrounding the drug’s use in Judaism.
The actor, writer and director has never advertised any product in the UK or US ‘despite countless opportunities to do so’ over fears it would ‘weaken his credibility as an actor and as a serious social activist’.
Baron Cohen, a three-time Oscar nominee, turned down a 4 million dollar (£2.9 million) offer to appear in a car commercial, according to the lawsuit.
And it notes cannabis remains illegal in many US states.
Baron Cohen’s lawyer alleges Solar Therapeutics did not believe he would see the offending billboard ‘so they took a gamble’ in putting Borat’s likeness on it.
The company is yet to respond.
The second Borat film – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – arrived in October last year to critical acclaim, earning Baron Cohen a nomination for best adapted screenplay at the Oscars.
Borat 2 went viral for a clip involving Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.
The ex-New York City mayor was filmed with his hand down his trousers while in a hotel room with actress Maria Bakalova, who was disguised as a reporter.
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