As anyone who watched Borat Subsequent Moviefilm can attest, it would be harrowing enough to shoot an interview with an unmasked Rudy Giuliani in a hotel room during a pandemic. (He even reportedly refused a COVID-19 test.) According to the film’s producer Monica Levinson, however, the real scare came after Giuliani’s segment with Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat’s teenage daughter, Tutar, came to an abrupt end, following the arrival of a lingerie-clad Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat. According to Levinson’s appearance on a Producers Guild of America panel Saturday, the former mayor of New York allegedly tried to have the filmmakers hauled in by police.
“He claimed we were trying to extort him at the time, which we didn’t ask for anything,” she explained, per Deadline. “He called all of his New York City cops and said extortion, which was a federal crime. Very smart to bring that up.” The cast and crew were subsequently locked out of the hotel room they had used for filming.
While they had wisely smuggled out the footage they needed, Levinson says she and her fellow filmmakers weren’t able to retrieve their equipment in time. “We would hide tapes in our pants. There’s always ways to make sure we got out the data,” she recalls. “We actually had to rent new equipment. It was a really stressful time that evening, because the hotel wouldn’t let us take anything out of the rooms.”
Having spent 19 hours in jail during the filming of the first Borat movie, Levinson and her crew decided to get out of the five boroughs entirely, just in case. “We ended up confabbing with our lawyers,” she says. “I called the production team and said, ‘Let’s get everyone to New Jersey tonight.’ It was 11 o’clock at night. I didn’t want a repeat of what happened to me on the first movie happening to the entire crew.” So, while Rudy couldn’t get what he wanted that particular day, hopefully he’ll receive the next best thing: a shout-out from Bakalova when she wins this year’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actress next month.