In a lot of ways, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s guerrilla approach to comedy was already a form of spy craft. Since his debut with Da Ali G Show, and more recently on Showtime’s Who Is America?, Cohen has shown a knack for using disguise and manipulation, employing a form of comedic espionage to extract embarrassing and often terrifying statements from people in positions of power.
But in Netflix’s upcoming six-episode limited series, The Spy, written and directed by Homeland’s Gideon Raff, Cohen engages with espionage in a much more literal sense. In a much more dramatic role than we’ve come to expect from the Borat actor, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Eli Cohen, an Israeli Mossad spy who must go undercover as Kamal Amin Sebet, a member of the Syrian social elite who befriends an influential sheik in order to learn about the Syrian government’s anti-Israeli machinations.
As shown in the trailer released Wednesday, the longer the ruse progresses, the larger the psychological and familial toll. Eli Cohen soon struggles to keep his identity separate from his glitzy alias. “Taking off the clothes doesn’t work any more,” he confesses in the trailer, “I can’t just put him away.” The Spy also stars The Americans’ alum Noah Emmerich, along with Alexander Siddig and Marc Maurille. The political thriller premieres on Netflix on Sept. 6.