If you have watched Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, or Borat 2, then you know that the real star of the crazy sequel isn’t Sacha Baron Cohen, it’s 24-year-old actress Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutar Sagdiyev.
Yep. She’s really 24. Phew, right?
So who is Maria Bakalova?
I know I asked that question after watching Borat 2, so I figured many of you have asked or will also ask the same question.
Well, for one thing the accent Bakalova uses in the movie isn’t a big stretch for her as she was born and grew up in Bulgaria and her native language is what she was speaking in the film. Cohen was speaking Hebrew.
In fact, she majored in drama theater, with a second major in flute, at the National School of Arts in Burgas and also majored in drama at the Krastyo Sarafov National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, graduating in 2019.
Bakalova had appeared in a handful of films before landing the role of Tutar and in 2018 won the Best Actress award at Toronto’s AltFF Alternative Film Festival for her work in the movie Trangression in 2018.
Val Todorov, the director of Transgression, recently told MovieMaker in an email, “I discovered Maria in 2016 when we auditioned for the lead in the movie. From the first moment she struck me as fearless, talented and very versatile. This was her film debut and her only leading role. Like in Borat, we did a mixture of scripted scenes with improvised ones often in an environment with people who didn’t even know we were shooting a movie.”
During an interview with Good Morning America, it was revealed that Bakalova got the role of Tutar thanks to a self-taped audition.
“We started with self-tape. It was an open call,” she said. “I sent another one and then I went to London, England a few times and we even started with real people in the first audition. It was crazy.”
Cohen now thinks she deserves an Academy Award for her work in Borat, saying, “She is an incredible actor. We interviewed 600 women from all round the world and she is hilarious. She is one of the most courageous actors in history. If she doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar then that is a travesty.”
He added, “She is one of a kind. Imagine coming to America for the first time — she had barely been out of Bulgaria — and suddenly she is playing a role in some terrifying situations and she got through it all. I don’t know how she did it.”