For the mind behind one of the aughts’ more boundary-breaking comedies, Sacha Baron Cohen has kept a relatively quiet profile onscreen in recent years. He’s had the odd comedy appearance and Disney payday, but Baron Cohen seems to have largely taken a step back from the shock comedy on which he made his name in favor of more diverse roles. (You may recall when he was supposed to play Freddie Mercury, until he wasn’t anymore.)
Now, the man famous for playing Borat is headed to Netflix, as are all actors and filmmakers sooner or later. However, in a continuation of his more affecting work in films like Hugo, Baron Cohen will portray a real-life spy in a limited drama for the streaming service. The Spy will put Baron Cohen into the shoes of Eli Cohen, an embedded Israeli spy in 1960s Syria who rose into the highest ranks of power and was able to smuggle key military defense information out of the country. Cohen’s real-life story is full of the kind of material that the greatest spy stories are made of: espionage, subterfuge, clandestine lovers, and no shortage of tragedy.
It’ll certainly be an interesting look for Baron Cohen, whose all-in comedy performances have always been anchored by a certain soulful realism, even in the face of all the dick jokes and prank-based setpieces. There’s not yet a premiere date for The Spy, but the six-episode series already has its primary players attached, with Homeland executive producer Gideon Raff set to write and direct. And you can be sure that Netflix will be making you very, very aware of it as soon as it’s ready.