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BORAT MADE ME HIP; Exclusive Ken Davitian reveals why his wife had other things on her mind as she watched him wrestled naked in hit movie.

Byline: By Rick Fulton

ALONG with hundreds of friends and colleagues, Ellen Davitian watched her excessively fat husband wrestle naked with another man.

But far from burying her head in her hands, Ellen was more worried for her husband Ken's new hip.

Armenian/American actor Ken, 53, is the wonderful hang-dog producer in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the hit movie also starring Ali G creator Sacha Baron Cohen.

Ken plays Borat's put-upon producer Azamat Bagatov, who travels from their native Kazakhstan to America on a road trip few in the States will ever forget.

And the nude wrestling scene, which sees the men burying their genitals into each other's faces as they fight in a hotel room, is a scene that's hard to forget.

Ken, who has two grown-up sons, Robert and Aaron, with his wife of 30 years Ellen, revealed: "The first time the wife saw it was at the premiere. She was in a room with 1000 people from Hollywood and every time something happened her voice got higher, saying'Oh, oh, oh'.

"But fortunately I have a very sympathetic and loving wife so when she saw me thrown off the stage, her reaction instead of saying'you humiliated me, you were naked, how could you do this?' was 'oh my God, I'm glad you bounced and didn't break your hip,' because I'd just had my left hip replaced two months before."

His sons also thought his part in the film was fantastic.

It's certainly made his career. A jobbing actor for more than 15 years with roles in Boston Legal, ER, Six Feet Under and adverts for Budweiser, Ken is now in the Hollywood elite and will star in Get Smart, a new movie with Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin and Terence Stamp.

And the actor is happy to admit 'The Genius' as he calls Sacha, hasn't just given his career a shot in the arm - he's taken him from a nobody to a Hollywood sensation.

Ken said: "Working with Sacha changed my life. I think when I die there will be a photo of me smiling and they'll still show the naked fight.That's great. I wish it follows me forever."

However, Ken admits he hopes he doesn't have to strip again.

He laughed: "My only concern is getting naked again. I don't think I'll do that unless it's with a very attractive woman.

"I turn the light off during sex. It's not my wife who does it, it's me."

On a whistle-stop trip to the UK, Ken is in a London hotel room keeping the jet lag at bay by drinking Red Bull. It's 11am and he's already had two.

Of course while there are plenty of other fantastically funny moments in the film, the one scene everyone wants to talk about is the naked scene. From the fight in the hotel room to the naked dash down a hotel corridor, into a lift with shrieking woman and then into a banquet hall packed with mortgage brokers, Ken and Sacha were butt-naked all the way.

Ken also reveals they used separate hotels for each part.

"We found we couldn't walk around naked in a hotel very long," he says.

Given his size, Ken admits at first he didn't want to strip for the cameras.

He said: "When they told me about the nude scene I asked who would want to see me nude?

"I kept telling them 'this is aWes Craven movie, this is not going to be funny. Let me put on a pair of boxers because naked is going to be more scary'."

While the rehearsals for the nude fight scene were in boxers, Ken and Sacha stripped for the main event.

And while Sacha has an exaggerated black silhouette hiding his modesty superimposed on the film, Ken's rolls of fat meant you couldn't see anything.

The actor knows what I'm getting at and laughs:"It was cold. It was the first thing going on in my mind, but we were committed to doing it.

"If The Genius is going to get naked, I'm going to get naked."

After the naked wrestle, the chasing scenes from the corridor to lift to convention could only be done once.

While they escaped into a waiting car after scaring an elevator full of hotel guests, Ken and Sacha weren't so lucky after gate-crashing the banquet hall.

Ken said: "After we were fighting on the stage, we were both taken away by security.

"Sacha was taken by the town's police who knew it was a film.

"But I was detained by hotel security and it was worrying but they handed me over to the police who threw me into a van naked.

"It was another 30 minutes before someone brought me some clothes." Ken admits everywhere they went in America they caused chaos and had some narrow escapes.

During filming they were detained by Dallas police, the United States Secret Service, had Homeland Security come to their hotel and were even stopped by a Louisiana State Troopers' roadblock. And while they've been through a lot, it's back to the naked scene which Ken reckons has made him and Sacha life-long friends.

He said: "When you see someone naked there's a definitely feeling about seeing them the next time.

"You don't have to say 'hello, how are you?' it's like you've seen them only yesterday. It's a comfortable feeling.

"Sacha thinks of me as a big brother and I think of him as a little brother."

He may not want to strip again but if Sacha starts...

"I always take my lead from Sacha," laughed Ken, "If he starts disrobing, I'll start disrobing."

Ken wanted to act from when he was five or six years old after seeing his grandmother perform in an Armenian acting troupe.

He was a theatre arts major in college Los Angeles and did hundreds of plays.

He said:"I just thought that acting was cool. I liked it and for me it was easy." But his family were in waste removal and despite an early role as Fat Bartender in 1977 movie American Raspberry after college, he got married and settled into business.

He said: "My family's waste removal business was very lucrative. We picked up trash at different commercial locations like apartments and markets.

"Then I stared up a sandwich making business.

"I was always dabbling in food and if you've seen my body you know I like food."

Since 2003 he has co-owned an LA-based French sandwich chain called The Dip, but in the early Nineties he dipped his toe back into acting in the flick Bikini Summer and by 1995 he decided to give acting another go full-time.

He's appeared in American television shows like ER, Becker, The Shield and even S Club 7's L.A. 7.

When he heard about auditions for Sacha Baron Cohen's project he was desperate to move from cameo or one episode actor to something bigger.

Ken knew the part called for a foreigner, so he arrived at the audition in character, speaking only broken English in a thick Armenian accent.

He said: "I knew there were about a dozen people Sacha and the producers wanted to see for a third time so I had only one chance.

"I wore the same suit that's in the movie and the same accent. One time they asked if I could ad lib so I said: 'What do you mean adding one, two, three?'

"Then an executive producer said 'no can you do improvisation?' And I said'oh I take it in classes.'

"I fooled them. I was doing improv with Sacha and he actually started to laugh and walked off camera.

"I broke character at the end and said 'thanks gentlemen, give me a call if you liked it.'

"That's when everyone stood up and said wait a minute."

After a recall to make sure Ken was an actor and not a"crazy old man" he was given the job with Sacha, admitting that if they'd known he was an actor from the start, they wouldn't have liked the audition.

Then the movie fun began, which culminates with Pamela Anderson running away shrieking from a book signing after Borat tries to kidnap the ex-Baywatch star in a large bag.

Many have felt that the blonde beauty must have known what was going on but Ken dismisses this.

He said: "I'm sure she knew something was going to happen but she knew nothing about the bag.

"I know she didn't think she was going to be chased outside, but she knew something was going to happen.

"All you have to do is look at her face. Look at the terror."

With the part of an evil assistant in Get Smart, a Hollywood remake of the American television secret agent comedy series, Ken is also going back to ER with a part specifically written for him. He said: "I couldn't be happier."

And his wife? "She is too and she hasn't asked me to do any more naked wrestling."

Borat is out now on DVD.


FAMOUS FACE: Ken's naked fight scene is hard to forget, left, but he and co-star Sacha Baron Cohen are still best of friends, below; THUMBS UP: The movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen has been a huge success
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 17, 2007
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