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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Megan Voorhees
Megan Voorhees
Assistant News Editor

Hi! I’m Megan Voorhees and I’m the Assistant News Editor at The Northwind! I was first introduced to journalism my sophomore year of high school and I’ve been in love with the profession and writing...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

An evening with Azamat

During a break from filming his next project “Get Smart,” actor Ken Davitian spoke with North Wind reporter Shane Nyman.

Davitian has acted in several television shows such as “Six Feet Under,” “Gilmore Girls,” “The Closer” and “Boston Legal.” He has also appeared in other movies, including “S.W.A.T.,” “Holes” and “A Man Apart.”

Growing up in Los Angeles, was it always your dream to become an actor?

Yes, it was, without a doubt. I remember that from the time I was 13.

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You spent some time after college working in waste management and in restaurants. How did you get back into acting?

I got myself an agent. I was always hovering around (the acting industry), I knew people in it. When I was in the trash business, I picked up the trash for the city of Malibu and all of the things I did, there was always something connected to (the industry). It was always the second plot of everything that had to do with anything. So, when I was down and out, I went back to what I really knew how to do and what I really loved to do and kept pursuing it.

A lot of people don’t realize that you’re an American actor. Could you tell the story of how you used that misconception to your advantage during your Borat audition?

It was the last day of callbacks and I went in dressed as the character, in character, and did some improv with Sacha (Baron Cohen) and they started laughing. I found out later that they were laughing at me, not with me. They said that it was so sad that I was just out of place and had no idea about acting. When they asked me if I knew how to do any ad-libs, I said (in broken English accent) “What you talking ad-lib? One, two, three? Adding?” and they said, “No, no, no, improvisation!”

How much fun was it working with Sacha Baron Cohen?

Sacha’s a perfectionist. It was a lot of work but we laughed a lot. We laughed after the cameras were off because you can’t laugh with the people there. The hardest part for all of us was to stay in character. The hardest part for the cameraman was not to crack up. You just don’t know what the heck Sacha’s going to say.

What was filming the naked wrestling scene like and how did they ever talk you into doing it?

Well, I’ve said this many times: It was cold. It was very cold. You’re not used to walking around completely naked. They talked me into it because we agreed that if these two gentlemen were really having a fight, they don’t care if they’re dressed or not. Azamat was very upset that he’d been fooled to come to America and go to California, because all they were supposed to do was stay in New York. He felt betrayed by this guy.

Now where the question comes up is, where the heck were the censors? I don’t know.

And it was all Sacha’s idea for that to happen?

Every moment of it was his idea and there will someday be footage of when he explained it to us. He’s pacing up and down in a room, I’m sitting on the edge of a couch and he’s describing what he sees in his mind. He says “And then you’ll do this, and then we’ll flip this way, and I’ll flip on the bed and then your balls will hit my chin.” And then I turned to one of our executive producers, a very well respected man in this industry, and I said “Did he say balls? Did he say balls?” and the guy says “Yeah, that’s what he said.”

He was obviously willing to sacrifice a lot to make the scene work.

Well, he could have said you go on bottom and I’ll get on top. But, obviously, he got the bottom ’cause he wanted it. I just did what I was told.

Did you shoot that scene multiple times?

It was a one shot deal. If you fall down and hurt your ankle, or fall over somebody and have a glass fall and it shatters and cuts your foot… it’s a one shot deal. Nobody was going to say cut. When I was running in the ballroom, it wasn’t planned that I would fall. I fell because I’m old and slow.

When did you realize Borat was going to be such a big hit?

I believe it was the second or third week. I felt we had something there. I walked into a motel room with Borat. In Armenian, I said “This is the castle of a king.” I pointed to a chair and I said, “That is the throne of the king,” and he turned around and said the same thing in English. I thought, “Wow, if this works, it’s going to be something. We both know how these characters are thinking.”

It was great learning from Sacha and (director) Larry Charles. They’re geniuses from different continents with their own chemical formula for laughter. And they mix them up and you’ve got nuclear laughter.

How about the controversies after the movie came out, with the kids in the motor home and the driving instructor?

I honestly don’t know anything about it. All I know I have seen on CNN. I know we took every precaution and did everything by the book that was given to us. So, I don’t know anything about all that stuff.

Anytime a movie becomes so successful, there is sequel talk. Has there been any sequel talk?

There’s been a lot of sequel talk. None of it is factual. At this point, it’s all up to the genius himself.

Do you want a sequel?

Oh yes, very badly. The question becomes how would we be able to use people without their knowledge. That’s going to be very difficult and Sacha doesn’t want to do a scripted movie. Where do we go? What do we do? It’s all up to him. I just work here.

What does the future hold for you?

I did (the movie) “Get Smart,” which is amazing to me. Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, The Rock and me. We’re shooting it now. That’s why I was unable to come (to NMU) when I was supposed to. I apologize, but duty calls, and I don’t feel that I’m in the position to tell my employers to just wait.

What should NMU students expect when you speak next Tuesday?

To leave with an optimistic feel. What I keep saying is if there’s an obstacle in front of you, take a machete and you chop it down and you just keep going until you get what you want. Don’t stop trying. And, they’ll find out little bits of things that I didn’t tell you. They’ll see the video, they’ll meet me and I’m excited to meet all of you.

This event begins at 7:30 p.m. and is sponsored by Platform Personalities and the student activity fee. Admission is free for students and $2 for the general public.

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