Sex-pest claims that shattered facade of Isla and Sacha’s ‘together forever’ marriage

Katie Hind
Daily Mail
8 Min Read
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher. Right: Rebel Wilson and Isla Fisher.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher. Right: Rebel Wilson and Isla Fisher. Credit: The West Australian

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there for ever,” wrote Isla Fisher as she and her husband Sacha Baron Cohen celebrated 20 years together.

The Instagram post from 2021 also featured pictures of the celebrity couple throughout their relationship, including one of them dressed as tennis players for a fancy dress party.

And on Friday evening, Australian actor Fisher used a similar photo to announce her split from the London-born comedian best known for his Ali G and Borat characters.

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“After a long tennis match lasting over 20 years, we are finally putting our racquets down,” she wrote.

“In 2023 we jointly filed to end our marriage. We have always prioritised our privacy, and have been quietly working through this change. We forever share in our devotion and love for our children. We sincerely appreciate your respecting our family’s wish for privacy.”

While the announcement came as a shock to the couple’s fans, it has been an open secret among their friends for more than a year.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that rumours suggesting their marriage was over began to swirl last year, when the couple began house-hunting in London.

For some years they had split their time between Los Angeles and Perth.

However, Baron Cohen, 52, who grew up in London’s Hammersmith and is very close to his family, was itching to return to London, while his wife was happier in her native Australia.

The disagreement over where they lived is said to have taken its toll on the pair, who had been together since 2001.

The split announcement came just days after Australian actor Rebel Wilson claimed that Baron Cohen sexually harassed her, tried to coerce her into being filmed naked despite a no-nudity clause, and then attempted to block publication of her memoir.

When suggestions that the couple’s relationship was crumbling originally reached journalists, their public relations people instantly shut down the claims and the pair went on a social media campaign to tell the world that they were delightfully happy.

Rebel Wilson and Isla Fisher in Los Angeles for the premiere of Bachelorette in 2012.
Rebel Wilson and Isla Fisher in Los Angeles for the premiere of Bachelorette in 2012. Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Awkwardly, this February, Fisher, 48, was asked on TV about their Valentine’s Day plans and she said: “Every year Sacha does give me a card that (says) “Happy Valentine’s from...” and then there’s a massive question mark... as if I have any other Valentines.”

The confected front, it seems, was intended to keep up their “brand”.

Baron Cohen particularly enjoyed what their coupling meant to the outside world and wanted to keep it up for as long as possible.

And following Wilson’s claims, which have threatened his reputation, it is now clear why.

While there is no proof that Wilson’s allegations were the catalyst for the Baron Cohen/Fisher divorce announcement, the timings seem more than coincidental.

There were reportedly a series of crisis meetings last week over how to best tackle the unsettling #Metoo-style claims.

In her memoir, Wilson described her experience filming the 2016 movie the Brothers Grimsby with Baron Cohen, whom she has referred to as an “a..hole”.

Wilson played his girlfriend in the spy action comedy, and claimed that he asked her to strip off on the set, despite her contractual agreement not to.

She said that the comedian “gets off on making people feel uncomfortable”.

Shockingly, she also alleged that Baron Cohen requested she “stick her finger up his a.. because he thought it would make the scene funny.

She claimed “it felt like (he) had sexually harassed me”.

She said that she felt “completely disrespected, which led to me treating myself with even more disrespect by eating in an extremely unhealthy way”.

Baron Cohen strenuously denies her claims, calling them “demonstrably false” and adding that they are “contradicted by extensive detailed evidence”.

He says that others involved will support his account and that the nude scene was in the agreed script.

One insider observed: “You do have to wonder whether Wilson’s memoir and the timing of the couple’s split announcement are more than a coincidence.”

Baron Cohen also completely denies these claims.

“Despite being determined to keep their break-up secret for months, suddenly Sacha’s reputation is being questioned and Isla is well known as a strong supporter of women’s rights. So you do have to wonder,” the insider continued.

“Sacha and Isla have always presented themselves as a kooky kind of brand. Indeed, few people originally expected them to get together, or stay together.

“Isla is just lovely. She has a reputation as a lovely, fun-loving woman. For Sacha, she’s been the perfect antidote to his reputation of a sometimes acid-tongued comedian. It’s fair to say that he needed her for his career more than she needed him.”

In a bid to keep their fracturing relationship quiet, they shared a picture of themselves kissing last July.

And even at the end of November, once the pair were quite far into their divorce journey, Fisher posted a photograph of the pair drinking beer on social media, alongside a picture of Fisher and her Wolf Like Me co-star Josh Gad.

“Off-screen date & onscreen date,” she captioned the snaps.

It left her fans in no doubt that she and her husband were firmly together.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday’s You magazine last November, Fisher spoke lovingly of her late father and suggested that it was his influence that attracted her to her husband.

Undoubtedly, another factor in their marriage coming to an end was the death of Fisher’s beloved father Brian in January 2023.

Friends say his passing left her “absolutely devastated” and made her reassess her life.

“Isla and her dad were so close; she absolutely adored him and losing him destroyed her,” a friend said.

“It was one of those moments in life that changes you, and it wasn’t long after this that Isla began to consult lawyers about splitting up with Sacha.

“Maybe, after all, she decided that he wasn’t the man that she would spend the rest of her life with. Her dad was such a strong, male influence in her life.”

It was shortly after her father’s death that the couple started to house-hunt in London.

They had moved from Los Angeles to Sydney in 2020, then to Perth – where Isla’s family live – in September 2021, to escape Sydney’s strict Covid lockdown rules.

At the time, they said the switch to Western Australia would be permanent.

However, their move from the US to Australia was said to be “difficult” for Baron Cohen because he was settled in Hollywood, and it was a shorter flight to London from there, too.

He was said to be the main driver behind the family’s move to the UK.

“The return to the UK came from nowhere,” said a friend of the couple.

“They had been living away from Britain for a while and they weren’t expected to relocate. But things were becoming difficult and, as they say, home is where the heart is. Perhaps Sacha thought that would make things better. It didn’t, though – things just crumbled and crumbled.”

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher. Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Fisher and Baron Cohen met in 2001 at a party in Sydney which he later described as “pretentious”, saying they “bonded over taking the mick out of the other people (at) the party”.

Their union was a surprise for their disparate sets of fans.

Fisher, who was born in Muscat, Oman, to Scottish parents before growing up in Perth, was best known for playing schoolgirl Shannon Reed in the Australian soap Home And Away.

She joined the show when she was 18, before departing in 1997.

She went on to star alongside Owen Wilson in the 2005 comedy Wedding Crashers, and made her name as a leading lady with the rom-com Confessions Of A Shopaholic in 2009.

Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family and educated at the £24,000 ($46,000)-a-year Haberdashers’ Aske’s boys’ school in Hertfordshire before studying history, with a focus on anti-Semitism, at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

He catapulted to fame in 1998 with his satirical poseur character Ali G, who bragged about coming up “in da heart of da Staines ghetto” and leading a local street gang.

He also created other alter-egos, including Kazakh journalist Borat and a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter called Bruno.

After getting engaged to Baron Cohen in 2004, Fisher converted to Judaism to prepare for their wedding.

They had their first child, Olive, in 2007, and in 2010 wed in an intimate ceremony in Paris.

They used the ruse that it was Baron Cohen’s father’s 70th birthday to avoid any suspicion that they were marrying.

That summer, Fisher gave birth to their second daughter, Elula (meaning August in Hebrew), and in 2015 they had a son called Montgomery.

The couple are likely to face a tricky divorce.

Fisher has custody of their children but, as with all couples who have split, coparenting won’t be easy, particularly if they are based in different continents.

They had a pre-nuptial agreement – thought to be because Baron Cohen was worth a lot more than Fisher – but their properties were purchased while they were married, so they face splitting their assets.

Those issues aside, Fisher will surely feel relieved at having untangled herself from the controversy that has been engulfing Baron Cohen for the past fortnight.

Just hours after the couple’s split announcement, Wilson took to social media to share a video promoting her memoir, in which she wore a satin green dress, stuck out her tongue and gave a peace sign, with the caption: “What a week!”

Meanwhile, Fisher appears to be enjoying life as a single woman.

She seemed in very good spirits during a girls’ night out with British actresses Naomi Watts and Michelle Dockery to see Sam Mendes’s new play, The Hills Of California, at London’s Harold Pinter theatre on Wednesday.

And last month she hit the town for Vanity Fair’s Oscars party in Los Angeles, having attended the BRIT Awards at London’s O2 Arena a few days previously.

“It’s the beginning of the rest of her life,” said one showbusiness source. “And she’s determined to enjoy it.”

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