There are two centerpieces to Sacha Baron Cohen’s very timely 2020 satirical sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. There is the emotional centerpiece in Maria Bakalova’s performance as Borat’s daughter, Tutar, and there’s the high dramatic set piece of her perilous interview with Trump lackey Rudy Giuliani. But that crucial scene in which Giuliani appears to put his hand down his pants on a hotel bed in front of Bakalova almost didn’t happen because Giuliani didn’t want to take a rapid coronavirus test before sitting down in a small, enclosed setting with Bakalova and crew. According to a profile of Baron Cohen in Variety, “Giuliani refused to take a rapid test to determine if he had COVID-19, violating the strict safety protocols that Baron Cohen and his producers had established in order to shoot the film during a public health crisis.” Baron Cohen tells Variety that there was “debate of ‘what do we do?” and “Do we go ahead with this scene? What happens if he has coronavirus?’ We concluded that it was worth the risk.”
We can’t say that we’re surprised that Giuliani did a Giuliani, nor can we say that we’re surprised by the rest of Baron Cohen’s interview. Baron Cohen says that he was driven to make Borat Subsequent Moviefilm despite the challenges of filming during coronavirus because he “felt democracy was in peril,” and he aimed to release it when he did because “I don’t want to egotistically imply that people would watch ‘Borat’ and not vote for Trump, but that was the aim.” Sir. You are talking about a Borat.