Maria Bakalova is no joke. She’s the real deal. The 24-year-old from the coastal city of Burgas on the Black Sea in Bulgaria has become a rising star thanks to her breakthrough in the film Borat 2.
Bakalova plays Tutar, teenage daughter of Kazakhstan’s most infamous son, Borat Sagdiyev – Sacha Baron Cohen’s delightfully comical creation – who makes her way across America in a tidal wave of satire.
Shot in the midst of both a pandemic and a hotly contested US presidential election, the film is a sequel to Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan, released 15 years ago.
Social satire: Maria
In Borat Subsequent Movie Film, Tutar from Bakalova is locked up in a cage and ends up in the ‘US and A’, accompanying her hapless father on a mission to restore his ‘good’ name.
The moment I finished watching a copy of the movie, which was released on Amazon Prime last October, I wanted to see who was playing Tutar.
It’s a comedic tour de force, as Borat’s daughter shows up in many guises, including a journalist who lands the now infamous one-on-one interview in a hotel room with Donald Trump’s oily lawyer Rudy Giuliani – who didn’t know he was part of it. of it was the film.
Bakalova studied at the Bulgarian National Academy of Theater and Film Arts in Sofia, where she focused on Kafka, Turgenev and Stanislavski’s lessons. “Half my life has been devoted to acting,” she said. But most of the roles I’ve played have been dramatic, from teenage pregnancy to suicide. So the comedy wasn’t my cup of tea. ‘
Film wasn’t her thing either – until she saw two Mads Mikkelsen movies (A Royal Affair and The Hunt). “Then came the movie love,” she said. ‘I wanted to be exactly like this actor. Which was weird, because girls usually say, “I want to be like them.” But I wanted to be like Mads. ‘
Bakalova had made films in Eastern Europe; but Borat was her first western film. She noted that, for the most part, actors from Bulgaria could get “ two or three lines playing a mafia man or a whore. ” So she’s happy with the attention her performance is drawing … for herself and for her country.
The work was demanding – not least because we often ‘only had one recording’; with Cohen and his crew taking it out of town as soon as they called ‘Cut!’ cried.
After the scene where Giuliani allegedly tried to take part in a handkerchief with Tutar, they actually fled the country.
“I could hear my heart beating like crazy,” she told me. “He was the president’s attorney; and these people are usually super smart.
Maria in Borat 2 with Sacha Baron Cohen as her father
‘I’m not sure I saw it the way everyone saw it. Sacha hid in the closet and tried to save his daughter – but he saved me, Maria! As a producer and as a maker, he is my teacher and guardian angel. ‘
Clearly, the judges and voters for the BAFTA, Oscar and Screen Actors Guild awards saw the layers of skill and pathos in Bakalova’s performance, as they all nominated her in the Best Supporting Actor category. (The SAG awards are held on Mondays; the BAFTAS on April 11.)
Maria knew nothing about the movie’s premise or Cohen’s involvement in her audition. But once she won the part, she and Cohen threw themselves into rehearsals. “ From the beginning there was a script structure about a father and a daughter and they have some crazy times together, ” she said. Tutar’s father brainwashed her into thinking ‘women should live in cages’ and that their only purpose in life is to please ‘the men they are going to marry’.
It’s a comedic tour de force, as Borat’s daughter shows up in many guises, including a journalist who lands the now infamous one-on-one interview in a hotel room with Donald Trump’s oily lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pictured above.
Jeanise Jones, another ignorant real-life figure, (she lights up the film), however, reassures the teen that she’s “strong and beautiful, just the way she is.” “She’s the fairy mother of the movie,” said Maria
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, this all happens before Tutar is about to undergo plastic surgery – by a real surgeon.
“That’s when you almost want to break character,” she admitted. “I certainly had little panic attacks before every scene.”
It is Tutar’s expert acting that reveals the sexism, misogyny and political corruption that Cohen and his team sought to expose; and in light of the storming of the Capitol in January, Borat 2 looks positively forward-looking. I told her there is a hint of Chekhov in it. Hard truths buried in laughter. She smiled but did not disagree. ‘The structure is comedy, but deep. What is the message behind these jokes? ‘
Her father, a retired chemist (and hard rock fan) and mother (a nurse), keep an eye on their child from afar. We spoke in London, where she shot the new Judd Apatow movie The Bubble.
“It’s a comedy about a film crew trying to finish a movie during the pandemic,” she explained. “It feels completely familiar, because we were those crazy people who were going to kill Borat in the middle of a pandemic!”
Indeed, after she finished Borat 2, she realized she was missing something… “The twice-a-day Covid tests!”
Wonder what Chekhov would have made of it.
Nicholas has Tsar quality
Nicholas Hoult will don his chic new double-breasted black velvet Armani tuxedo Monday – and spend the night at home.
The actor is in the running for a Screen Actors Guild award for his masterfully wry portrayal of Emperor Peter in the utterly wicked TV drama The Great. Elle Fanning plays his wife: Empress of all Russia, Catherine the Great.
“There’s a lot of fuss about going to awards ceremonies,” Hoult told me recently. “It’s nice to do it at home.”
Russian Front: Hoult and Fanning in The Great
The SAG citation follows a Golden Globe nomination. “I was surprised that most voters had an idea of who I am!” he said with genuine modesty. But I am not.
The 31-year-old has done spot-on performances everywhere, from The Favorite (he had the best wigs) to Mad Max: Fury Road and True History Of The Kelly Gang; demonstrate an admirable ability to disappear completely into a role.
Tom Cruise saw that too. Hoult is said to have worked with Cruise on the latest Mission Impossible feature that is now being included.
But the pandemic changed schedules, and Nicholas was committed to the second season of The Great (the couple “ spoke and had a good chat ” after the inevitable change of plans).
Fanning plays Emperor Peter’s wife in The Great
Hoult admits that there are “some real emotions at play” in The Great
“ The whole thing came about because I auditioned for Top Gun, and then Tom Cruise called me after seeing the screen test, ” he explained.
They worked together on pre-production for M: I 7. “At some point we’ll hopefully figure out how to get together,” he said.
Hoult likes to work with Fanning on The Great. Despite the hilarious mismatch between Peter and Catherine, “there are some real emotions at play” – “and some strangely sweet moments.”
Hoult gave a perfect performance in The Favorite
He thinks his character is ‘quite obnoxious’, but he does enjoy the surreal side of the show – something he attributes to the scripts of Tony McNamara (who shared an Oscar nomination with Deborah Davis for their screenplay for The Favorite).
I catch myself chuckling at one of Hoult’s lines in the program when the Emperor decides he wants to change the name of the month of July to. Peter.
The Great is available on All4 (not all episodes) and Starz by subscription.