Comic Sacha Baron Cohen to star in "Dictator"

British actor Sacha Baron Cohen arrives for the Australian premiere of his new film "Bruno" in Sydney June 29, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sacha Baron Cohen, the British comedian who shone an ugly light on middle America in “Borat” and satirized the fashion industry in “Bruno,” will next turn his attention to the lighter side of dictatorships.

Baron Cohen will star in “The Dictator,” which opens worldwide on May 11, 2012, distributor Paramount Pictures said in a statement on Thursday.

“The film tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed,” the Viacom Inc unit added.

The $58 million project will be directed by “Seinfeld” veteran Larry Charles, who also shot “Borat” and “Bruno.” Baron Cohen wrote the script along with Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel, who are also “Seinfeld” alumni.

Shooting will start in the spring, a studio spokeswoman said.

Baron Cohen, now 39, whipped up some controversy with his 2006 faux-documentary “Borat,” in which he played an anti-Semitic reporter from Kazakhstan who interacts with real Americans unaware they were being set up.

It grossed about $260 million worldwide. The 2009 follow-up “Bruno,” in which he played a gay Austrian fashionista, earned about $140 million.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Vicki Allen