After initially being dis-invited by the academy, Baron Cohen was allowed to attend the ceremony acting as the kind of Moammar Gadhafi parody he plays in his upcoming film, "The Dictator." As expected, he brought his unique brand of publicity stunt and method comedy.
It came at Seacrest's expense, though.
Flanked by two flower girls, he jokingly claimed to be carrying the ashes of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, whose face was displayed on the container.
In an interview with Seacrest, he claimed it was Jong Il's dream "to be sprinkled over the red carpet and over Halle Berry's chest." Then, as Seacrest was bending down, he spilled the ashes over Seacrest's tuxedo.
Few maintain calm on the red carpet more than the awards show veteran, but even Seacrest looked shaken as he attempted to dust himself off.
As security muscled Baron Cohen away, Seacrest attempted to cut to commercial, but his E! colleagues sought to milk the incident. It quickly became the most-chatted about topic on Twitter, where commentators eagerly lapped up the rare breach in decorum at the Academy Awards.
Said Seacrest: "Anything can happen and it most certainly did, all over my lapel."