Los Angeles - Sacha Baron Cohen has joked he cast "two black actors" in his new film Grimsby because he has "no desire to win an Oscar".
The 44-year-old British actor co-wrote and stars in the spoof spy comedy movie and has waded into the Academy Awards diversity row by comically claiming Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe and Spooks: The Greater Good star David Harewood only appear in the movie to ensure it is snubbed in the Oscars nominations next year.
Speaking on the red carpet at the BAFTA Awards at The Royal Opera House in London, Sacha - who was accompanied to the ceremony by his actress wife Isla Fisher - quipped: "I've just got to say, I'm coming out with a new film called Grimsby and we have no desire to win an Oscar, which is why we have cast two black actors in the lead roles."
Sacha's comments followed the recent controversy surrounding the 2016 Oscar nominations, which had very few actors of colour listed.Hollywood heavyweights such as Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are skipping this year's ceremony on 28 February, in protest at the lack of diversity, and rapper Snoop Dogg says he won't be tuning in.
Despite his Oscars joke, Sacha - who was raised in the Jewish faith - doesn't believe the Academy is in any way racist.
He explained: "I think the problem is the actual makeup of the films and the production staff and the directors and the actors are generally white. And I think there needs to be greater diversity here (in the UK) and in America. So I don't think it's that the members of the Academy are actually racist I think they aren't presented with enough films of diversity and I think it's not just African Americans I think it is Latino as well."
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