Sacha Baron Cohen takes a serious turn in Netflix drama 'The Spy'

Sacha Baron Cohen is more accustomed to appearing in bizarre comedies such as “Borat” and “Bruno,” in which he plays characters that are outrageous stereotypes. However, according to Variety, the British-born actor is slated to take a dramatic turn by starring in a new miniseries for Netflix entitled “The Spy.” Cohen will play Israeli superspy Eli Cohen (no relation), who infiltrated the top echelons of Syrian government circles in the early 1960s before he was caught and publicly hanged. Eli Cohen garnered a treasure trove of intelligence, including information about Syrian positions on the Golan Heights, which proved crucial to Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, which took place in 1967, two years after his death.

Eli Cohen, who was actually passed up by the Mossad when he first applied in the 1950s, was recruited by Israel’s spy agency for the Syria operation. After spending some time in Argentina in the persona of a Syrian businessman named Kamal Amin Thaabet, he moved to Syria and established a home in Damascus.

Eli Cohen would spend part of his time listening to political gossip in Damascus cafes and part of his time throwing wild, alcohol-fueled parties at his home, which the elite of Syrian military and political circles attended. While pretending to be intoxicated, the spy listened to Syrian leaders spill the most guarded secrets of the Damascus government. The parties also featured assignations between Syrian leaders and women, something that Eli Cohen, though married, took advantage of himself.

Eli Cohen wormed his way to the top echelons in Syrian society and was considered, at one time, for the post of Deputy Minister of Defense. He was once taken on a tour of Syrian positions on the Golan Heights, then overlooking Israeli towns and farms in the Galilee. He sent his intelligence via radio, secret letters, and during occasional clandestine visits to Israel. During one of the secret radio transmissions, Eli Cohen was caught by agents of Syrian Intelligence. Eli Cohen was tried and convicted under a martial law regime and sentenced to death. Despite an international campaign for clemency, the sentence was carried out on May 18, 1965, in Marjeh Square in Damascus. He became a national hero in Israel, with streets and neighborhoods named after him.

“The Spy” will drop on OCS in France and on Netflix everywhere else on a date yet to be determined The series was written and directed by Gideon Raff, most famous for creating “Prisoner of War,” the Israel TV series upon which the Showtime spy drama “Homeland” is based.