He is well-known for his role as Borat's producer (Azamat Bagatov) in the 2006 comedy film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in which he speaks Armenian (the Eastern dialect) throughout the film.
Early in his career he appeared in the movies American Raspberry, Bikini Summer, Maximum Force, Frogtown II, and Sexual Intent. In 1994, he appeared in the movie The Silence of the Hams, a spoof of The Silence of the Lambs.
Davitian has also appeared in television series such as Becker, ER, Arli$$, The Shield, Gilmore Girls, Six Feet Under, Boston Legal, The Closer, and Mind of Mencia.
He has also made appearances in music videos, for example in The Smashing Pumpkins' "Stand Inside Your Love" of 2000.
Davitian founded a restaurant in 2003 called The Dip, located in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California.
NAKED AMBITION By Robin Abcarian
Scotsman, UK March 10 2007
WHEN YOU THINK OF KEN Davitian, you probably think of him naked, obese and pendulous, nearly suffocating Sacha Baron Cohen in their famous naked hotel room fight in Borat. The 53-year-old actor so completely inhabited the part of Borat's humourless Kazakh producer Azamat Bagatov that many people in the film industry still don't realise he is in fact an American actor.
"Last week, I met with executives at Disney," says Davitian. "They said, 'We wanted to call you in because we thought you'd already gone back to some foreign land.' And I said, "But I was in Holes - one of your movies!" As it happens, Davitian, who always yearned for the life of a Hollywood actor, grew up in Los Angeles and now owns the Dip, a sandwich bar in the San Fernando Valley, where he lives with his family.
It was his son, Robert, who insisted he read for the part of the "frumpy Eastern European" at the Borat audition. "My perfect character!" says Davitian. "All my relatives are frumpy Eastern Europeans, Armenians with accents," he says. "This is the character I have been doing since I was a child."
Davitian has been riding high since Borat but arrived through a rather circuitous route. Although he studied theatre arts at college and later had a small role in an Albert Brooks movie (he ended up on the cutting-room floor), he went into his family's waste-management business. "With the rubbish money that was coming in," he says, "we were doing very well."
And then he made a disastrous business foray into Mexico. The fiasco ended in multinational litigation, trade arbitration and bankruptcy.
"It was the worst experience of my life," he says. "I neglected my family, I neglected my rubbish business here. I lost everything. I came home broke, broke, broke. My family was mad. I worked as a car salesman, a telemarketer, a salesman for another rubbish company. It was horrible."
With help from his father-in-law, he and his family opened a cafe in Burbank called Gotham Grounds and later the Dip. His two sons and wife went to work, while he tried to get his acting career off the ground. About seven years ago he began to be cast more often, mostly doing guest spots on TV shows."
At the Borat audition in front of Baron Cohen, director Larry Charles and writer Dan Mazer, Davitian showed up in character, wearing the ill-fitting beige suit he later wore in most of the movie, his eight-by-ten headshot folded to fit in his pocket. "I did the audition in character without giving them a resume or telling them I am an American actor," Davitian says. When it was over, in perfectly enunciated English, Davitian announced: "'Thank you very much, gentlemen. If you liked the audition, please call me, I had a great time.' They stopped me, and said, 'Wait a minute ... '"
After winning the role (for which there was no script but a detailed outline), he was told not to expect much screen time. However, about three weeks into the four-month shoot, a cross-country romp in search of Borat's love object, Pamela Anderson - during which the faux-naif Borat elicits racist, sexist and anti-Semitic views from unsuspecting Americans - Davitian was pretty sure of a couple of things: he was in a good movie, and he'd be getting plenty of screen time. "I don't want to sound immodest, but I thought, 'This is edgy, this is different, this is new. And there is a chemistry between this tall, skinny Cambridge-educated genius and the short, fat guy. It works!'"
On screen, when they were supposed to be speaking Kazakh, Davitian spoke Armenian; Baron Cohen spoke Hebrew. Davitian usually had no idea what Baron Cohen was saying. As Borat's grim-faced straight man, he blow dries Borat's hair and other body parts, chastises Borat for running late and is licked in the ear by a bear.
But the scene that will confer cinematic immortality is the horrifying naked fight, which begins in a hotel room, spills into a hotel elevator and ends in a hotel ballroom during a banquet for mortgage brokers. At 5ft 5in and weighing over 300 pounds (and having just undergone a hip replacement), Davitian was reticent about taking his clothes off. "I kept saying, 'Fat, naked guy: not funny. Fat guy in boxers: hilarious.'" And yet, when it came time to film the fight, he didn't hesitate. "You are in a room with what you consider geniuses, and if the genius is gonna get naked, I am following the genius."
He worked for close to the standard rate on Borat, which cost an estimated $18 million (£9.5m) and has grossed $247 million (£128m), but he has no regrets. "I am doing ER next week. Special guest. First time for me - no audition, no nothing, they called and said, 'We want you.' " He also has another movie lined up, Get Smart, with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. "People are calling. This has the potential to change my life."
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