Watch: Meet Maria Bakalova — Borat's October Surprise

Friday October 23, 2020

Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova in ""Borat Subsequent Movie Film" alova in
Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova in ""Borat Subsequent Movie Film" alova in   (Source:IMDB)

It might seem impossible to steal the limelight from Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen's alter-ego who returns to movies this week with "Borat Subsequent Movie Film," his mockumentary sequel to his 2006 "Borat." But that is precisely what Maria Bakalova does playing Borat's daughter Tutar (aka Sandra Jessica Parker Sagdiyev) in the film that was released Thursday night on Amazon Prime.

In the film Borat finds himself with Tutar when she smuggles herself into the U.S. and joins her father in his plan to "gift" her to Vice President Mike Pence. That sequence, though, isn't the most talked about in the film. Rather the headline-grabbing scene has Tutar interviewing President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in a compromising scene in a hotel room.

In it, Tutar leads him into the bedroom where he lies on the bed. As she removes his microphone, he reaches down in his pants only to be interrupted by Borat (dressed in hot pink bikini) shouting, "She's 15. She's too old for you," then adding as he leaves the hotel room with Tutar, ""Rudy, Trump would be disappoint, you are leaving hotel without golden shower!"

In the scene Bakalova handles herself with unabashed enthusiasm for Giuliani that would be right at home on Fox News, then hints at something more when she puts her hand on his leg during the interview.

But who is Bakalova? Cohen kept her identity under wraps prior the film's release, writes the Daily Beast in a profile on her, using a phony name in the film's early press notes.

"The first thing to know is that she is not Irina Novak." reports the website Moviemaker. "Irina Novak was the name initially listed on IMDb as playing Borat's daughter, Sandra Jessica Parker Sagdiyev, aka Tutar. In the film, she travels from Kazakhstan with her father Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) to the United States in hopes of currying favor with the Trump Administration."

Born in Burgas, Bulgaria's second-largest city, the 24-year old actress recently moved to Los Angeles, reports the website for Glamour Magazine.

While unknown in the United States, Bakalova "has a very respectable list of acting credits abroad, including filmmaker Val Todorov's 'Trangression,' in which an 18-year-old is convinced to disclose a wild sexual experience with an older rocker. She won best actress at Toronto's AltFF Alternative Film Festival for the role," adds Moviemaker.

And she takes to Cohen's outrageous mix of political commentary and "Jackass"-styled stunts fearlessly. "(W)hatever Bakalova lacks in prior experience, she more than makes up for it with sheer force of will," writes Vanity Fair. "From her first scene in 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,' where Tutar is trapped in a barn in Borat's village—watching a (fake) animated movie about Melania Trump and her ascension from living in a 'shithole country' to the White House—Bakalova matches Cohen step for step. She's an ideal comic compliment for the merry prankster, especially as the film's outlandish set pieces lock into place. In one truly uncomfortable sequence, after she ingests a plastic baby decoration from atop a cupcake, Bakalova and Cohen push an anti-abortion pastor to the edge as they try in vain to get him to "take" the baby out."

She is also vocal about her politics, having Instagrammed her support for Bulgarian protesters in July, and Black Lives Matter in May.

She also posted a snarky Instagram aimed at older generations:

During the film's final moments, Cohen appears to break character, turning to his co-star and saying: "You were amazing." It is a sentiment that will largely be shared by many who watch the film.

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