If you’ve watched Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest mockumentary, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, in which Cohen returns as his titular character of the Kazakh journalist Borat, then you’ve most certainly left that experience with a lot of thoughts. Cohen’s former films have left audiences absolutely begging for more Borat content, due to a sort of train-wreck, can’t-look-away, morbid desire to see what the problematic journalist will do next. And while his most recent film still had us begging that question, we found ourselves absolutely transfixed by Cohen’s co-star, Maria Bakalova.
Bakalova plays Tutar Sagdiyev, Borat’s 15-year-old daughter who was raised in a barn and blatantly miseducated by her neglectful father. As a result, she’s been completely cut off from the world and really doesn’t know much of anything. The overall plot of the film surrounds Tutar and Borat going on a trip to the U.S. to deliver Tutar to Vice President Mike Pence as a sort of gift.
While there are various scenes that stick out in this film — and are perhaps ingrained in our brains for eternity now — there is one that is leaving audiences with jaws on the floor. Indeed, that scene is when Tutar engages in a relatively intimate interview with Trump Administration attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and things take a pretty disturbing turn.
Both Bakalova and Cohen had no idea what to expect from Giuliani, and were equally nervous going into this scene
In the film, Tutar disguises herself as a journalist and was able to book an interview with Giuliani. Despite her disguise, Tutar is still meant to be playing a 15-year-old — a fact that the audience knows, but we’re not sure if Giuliani knows. Needless to say, the scene with Giuliani was… creepy, as best. Going into the scene, Bakalova told the New York Times, “I was nervous. My heart was racing. But Sacha was like, you should be nervous in this situation. So use your nerves. Convert them and accept them and they’re going to help you through everything.”
After their interview, Tutar and Giuliani move to the bedroom, drinks in hands. They begin to take their microphones off, at which point we see Giuliani stick his hands down his pants. When asked by the New York Times what she believed he was doing in that moment, Bakalova paused and said, “What do you think he was doing?” She adds, “Sacha jumped into the room quickly, because he’s been worried about me. So, if he were late, I don’t know how things were going to go. But he came just in time.” But obviously Giuliani denies any of this behavior as being suspicious (via The Guardian).
Not breaking character was incredibly difficult — but imperative.
Clearly a high tense situation like this one requires incredible acting skills, a calm demeanor, and the ability to stay in character no matter what. Cohen claims he stayed in character throughout the entire five days period that he was living with the conservative conspiracy theorists that are shown in the film. “I lived in character for five days in this lockdown house,” he told Business Insider. “I was waking up, having breakfast, lunch, dinner, going to sleep as Borat when I lived in a house with these conspiracy theorists,” he said. “You can’t have a moment out of character.”
These actors, and subsequently actors that work on this style of mockumentary, have to be totally ready to improvise and roll with whatever comes their way. Bakalova discussed the importance of not breaking character in her interview with the New York Times. She said, “When Sacha starts doing his thing, and you’re right next to him, he has this super serious face. I have to act like it’s the most normal thing ever… There were moments when the scene was extremely funny and you just can’t stop laughing. It’s bad, because people were able to realize that it’s a joke. He taught me a trick to cross my fingers, to put pressure on my fingers, to stop laughing.”
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