Brüno has its fair share of wow moments, but for some reason, the one I kept spoiling to friends was when he consults with identical twin PR girls (Paris duplicated) about starting a charity, part of his quest to get famous fast. “What charities are hot right now,” asks the Austrian fashionista. When the twins answer with Darfur, he asks them where that is. And if they knew the answer, well, then they wouldn’t be in the movie. By the time he gets to asking them about "Darfive," you can barely watch. So who are these poor unsuspecting girls, and how did two L.A.-based PR queens get fooled by one of the biggest stars in Hollywood? [UPDATE: Also see the girls' reaction on actually seeing the movie.] To find out, I decided to ask them.
Since I wasn’t taking notes during the screening, I contacted someone at Universal for their names, and they promptly responded with Nicole and Suzie DeFosset, who operate Duet PR. Most of the people who make unexpected appearances in Brüno are likely mortified to be the butt of Sacha Baron Cohen’s jokes, but after e-mailing the girls, I found that they were more than happy to talk about their experience with Brüno. Like true PR vets, they realize that any publicity is good publicity.
How were you approached to do this interview with this personality who ended up being Brüno? Well they first contacted us through our website. They emailed us and said that they wanted to do an interview with this person who wants to rebrand himself from Europe, and he’s coming to America, and he’s looking to rebrand his image and get more PR visibility. They wanted to meet with us for an initial on-camera consultation, and then they wanted to do an interview with the client. They didn’t give us the name, they just said he was a European personality who was coming to America and he wanted to get more visibility in the US. And we were like, "Oh, this is kind of interesting." I asked them how they found our website and they said that -- we have testimonies of celebrities on our website, and Rocco DiSpirito is one of them -- and they said that they really love the kind of clients we work with. And we do a lot of red carpet events, and he was looking to do red carpet events as well.
How did they explain the cameras? Did they say that this was being filmed for Austrian television? Actually they said that they were working with German Television 1 on a documentary about the character. They couldn’t give us his name, but they said he was coming to the US for more exposure and that they would also be filming a documentary of the meeting, and it would possibly air back in Europe.
Did they have a release form they made you sign? Yeah we signed a release form, but in the industry, it’s not uncommon. We love meeting up with different people, and we always take on new business meetings. It was a basic document we signed, and they paid us more than our standard price that we would charge. So they paid us up front in cash for the meeting, and then they gave us additional cash for it to be on camera as well. So we’re like yeah, we’ll take the meeting and see what happens.
So then he walks into the room, or you walk into the room and he’s already there? No, we were sitting in our boardroom office, and were waiting on him. He was running about half an hour late. And we went down to sit in the boardroom and we were waiting for him, and he came in about 20 minutes later.
And then you see him, and you obviously know who Sacha Baron Cohen is, right? Yeah, we obviously know who he is -- we know Ali G and we know Borat, we’re huge fans. But Brüno, we didn’t recognize him at all. But after two minutes talking to him, we definitely realized that it wasn’t a real business meeting. We were definitely suspicious because he was asking ridiculously funny questions and we were on camera. We definitely had an idea that something was going on.
How long did it take you to realize you’ve been had? It actually took us almost 11 months and it was pretty surreal for us because a friend sent us a message, and he was like, you girls are in Brüno, did you know that? And we didn’t think anything of it. We were like, what’s Brüno? And he was like, It’s Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie. And we were like, what? But we still didn’t know if it was official, like if they had cut our part or anything. And then we saw the TV promos, and we were in the highlights, and we’re like oh, it’s official, we’re in the movie now.
And how did you react to that news? Were you worried you’d come off looking foolish? We didn’t look at it in a negative way at all, because we weren’t celebrities, we weren’t like Ron Paul having to make a public apology for what happened or anything. It was a fun experience for us, we laughed at it. They really edited this thing. We met with him for two hours, and our part was less than two minutes. Everyone knows that Sacha Baron Cohen makes fun of people in movies, so we took it as humorous, and we thought of it as a different opportunity to brand our company.
Have any of your friends seen it? Yes they have. We’ve had a lot of friends who are reporters in the industry, and so they contacted us and they laughed. And yeah I guess they do portray us in more of a way that will make people laugh at us, but Suzy and I take it for what it is. It’s Brüno, and we’re happy to be a part of the movie, we’re happy for people to include us in the promo highlights. Brüno’s hilarious. We’re excited for the movie to come out.
You’re seeing it on opening day? Well, we weren’t able to see the premiere because we were working that night, but we went to the after-party, and we’re going to see it the night before it comes out. But we got to see Brüno at the afterparty and see his wife Isla too.
Did you talk to Brüno? He wasn’t in costume and was more mellow. But we actually got to hang out with Isla. She’s so cool and funny, and she thought we were hilarious in the scene and loves our voices. And it was funny -- she was like, "I’m so excited to meet you girls," and I was thinking, wait, we’re so excited to meet you! And then we got to meet a lot of the writers and editors who cut our scene to make it what it is.
Have you guys seen this website hottwinpr.blogspot.com? It’s a blog dedicated to your appearance in the Brüno movie. (Laughs) We’ll have to check that out. What did you think of our appearance in the movie, honestly?
Honestly? I think people are going to laugh at you. You come off as being a little bit clueless, but it could have been worse. You could have been portrayed as racists or homophobes. Next to those, being dumb isn’t so bad. (laughs) Good!