It was the shot seen around the world. Following the release of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat Subsequent Moviefilm late last month, Rudy Giuliani landed in hot water surrounding his appearance in the film, seemingly flirting with the actress playing Tutar, Borat's 15-year-old daughter before putting his hand down his pants while laying back on a hotel bed. The former New York City mayor asserts that "at no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate," chalking up his, um, choice hand placement to tucking in his shirt, yet the scene was still certifiably uncomfortable to watch, sparking strong reactions from audiences everywhere.
It turns out that scene may have been just as nervewracking to film as it was to watch. On Wednesday, Maria Bakalova, the 24-year-old actress behind Borat's teen daughter opened up about her breakout role, including what actually went down during her infamous "interview" with Giuliani.
"Sacha, he's my nonbiological father and he will be like that forever," Bakalova explained to the New York Times . "So I trusted him from the beginning and I knew he would never put me in a dangerous situation. At the same time, we had a security team that was able to save us in a moment. Maybe the scene when we were at the hotel and Rudy Giuliani called the police, I was kind of scared that something would happen. But fortunately, we escaped."
"... fortunately, we escaped," is definitely a way to describe the circumstances of one's mainstream cinematic debut. Yikes. The Bulgarian actress says she knew of Giuliani due to his role in handling the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and worked closely with Sasha Baron Cohen in preparing for her shoot with the famed politician. "We'd been talking a lot about different scenarios. How should I act, this way or this way? What should I do? What is smarter? But in all of the scenarios, I was confident that Sacha will save me and he will save the scene, so it's not going to be a disaster. He's my guardian angel."
So what, exactly was Cohen's advice to Bakalova on filming that tough scene? Channeling her nerves into her performance. "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."
Although she said she was unsure about whether the unofficial Four Seasons Total Lawncare spokesman thought she was a teen, she stayed tight-lipped on why, exactly he put his hand down his pants, encouraging audiences to draw their own conclusions.
"I saw everything that you saw. If you saw the movie, that's our message. We want everybody to see the movie and judge for themselves," she said. However, it seems Cohen had some concerns about the scene. "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."
And thank god he did. Someone get this girl an Oscar, stat.