Sacha Baron Cohen and Borat Subsequent Movie Film are not done trolling the White House just yet. On Friday morning the actor and his co-star, Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, appeared on Good Morning America—where Baron Cohen revealed Bakalova has been staying in character since the film wrapped. And one prank already went off without a hitch.
As Cohen told GMA, Bakalova “recently got taken on a tour of the White House about a week before the super-spreader event by people who believed that she was a real journalist.”
Soon enough, Cohen posted a clip of that ruse on Instagram.
The actor also isn’t letting Rudy Giuliani off the hook for the movie’s most talked-about moment—when the president’s personal attorney is seen lying on a hotel bed and sticking his hand down his pants next to Bakalova, whom he believed to be a journalist. Giuliani insists he was tucking in his pants and nothing more—a notion Sacha Baron Cohen firmly, if vaguely, rebutted Friday.
Asked to respond to Giuliani’s defense, Cohen said, “Well, I would say that if the president's lawyer found what he did there appropriate behavior, then heaven knows what he's done with other female journalists in hotel rooms. And listen, I just urge everyone to watch the movie—it is what it is, he did what he did—and make your own mind up. It was pretty clear to us.”
Giuliani met with Bakalova, in character as Tutar, in a hotel suite for an interview about the novel coronavirus, believing she was a journalist. As the scene unfolds, Cohen interrupts the sit-down, at which point “Tutar” invites Giuliani into the bedroom for a drink. Throughout the meeting Bakalova flatters the attorney into some creepy behavior, like patting her lower back and agreeing to eat a bat. Eventually they help each other remove their microphones. Giuliani is then seen lying down on the hotel bed and sticking his hand in his pants as Cohen runs out shouting, “She’s 15! She’s too old for you!”
In a statement posted to Twitter this week, Giuliani—who had no reason to believe “Tutar” was 15—called the scene “a complete fabrication.”
“I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate,” Giuliani wrote. “If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.”
On GMA, Cohen said he was “quite concerned” for Bakalova while filming the scene. Bakalova never commented on what she believed Giuliani was doing but told Cohen, “I want to thank you, that I was sure you were going to save me... from everything.” When asked if she felt unsafe, she said that she never felt she was in danger thanks to the production team.
The scene, which promises to be analyzed like the Zapruder film for weeks to come, has been edited—so it’s impossible to tell for sure what was actually happening. But it’s become the most-talked about scene in a movie that also includes Sacha Baron Cohen invading CPAC. And Cohen predictably appears to be reveling in the controversy; on Thursday, ahead of the presidential debate, he even issued an in-character statement on Giuliani’s behalf.
“I here to defend America's mayor Rudolph Giuliani,” Cohen said as Borat. “What was an innocent sexy time encounter with a consenting man and my 15-year-old daughter has been turned into something disgusting by fake news media. I warn you, anyone else tries this and Rudolph will not hesitate to reach into his legal briefs and whip out his subpoenas.”