Maria Bakalova, the breakout star of Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm shares the advice Sacha Baron Cohen gave to help her stay in character.
Maria Bakalova, the breakout star of Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm, shares the advice Sacha Baron Cohen gave to help her stay in character. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, who paid $80 million for the rights to the movie, Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm is one of the biggest streaming hits of the year. Like the 2006 original, there were many controversial scenes in which Cohen, in character, gets unsuspecting celebrities and public figures, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, to do or say embarrassing things. The sequel adds a new character, played by Bulgarian actor Maria Bakalova.
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Bakalova was almost entirely unknown before starring as Tutar, the daughter of Cohen’s fake Kazakh reporter. However, that’s all changed, with the 24-year-old earning plaudits for her role in Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm, with Cohen even suggesting she should be up for an Academy Award for the work she did. Bakalova does indeed live up to Cohen’s reputation in the film, providing a performance that is as hilarious and engaging as Cohen’s, even convincing a babysitter that she was a downtrodden young girl from a third world country. But Bakalova says it wasn’t always easy to stay in character while filming.
Speaking to the New York Times, Bakalova reveals that she initially found it incredibly challenging to keep a straight face when acting alongside Cohen. Bakalova, who refers to Cohen as her “non-biological father” in the interview, reveals the actor is so funny it was hard to be serious during non-staged scenes, leading to her breaking character. However, Cohen shared a tip with Bakalova to keep her in character, suggesting she cross her fingers, or put pressure on them, to stop herself from breaking into laughter. You can read her full comments below:
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. But he’s so funny. 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.
As far as the right person to get advice from, you can’t do much better than Cohen. The comic actor has made a career out of disguising himself as characters like Borat, Ali G, and Bruno, and he has never been shown to break character. Even though some of the scenes in his movies are staged, many are real, and Cohen is a master at not only staying in character but reacting appropriately to keep the scene going and get an even bigger reaction from his interview subjects.
Bakalova learned her lesson, as she does an excellent job of playing off Cohen in Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm and even manages to hold her own when he’s not involved in a scene. A deleted scene showing Bakalova gaining access to the White House while in character proves that entirely, with the actor setting up a reporter from right-wing news outlet OANN with a series of questions that expose her biased reporting approach. Cohen’s tips paid off.
Next: Will Borat 3 Ever Happen?
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