Sacha Baron Cohen Says He Was 'Quite Concerned' For His Co-Star During the Rudy Giuliani Scene in Borat

Justin Kirkland
·6-min read
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

From Esquire

This week has been a complicated one for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Days before Amazon Prime Video made Borat Subsequent Moviefilm available to audiences, reports emerged about a scene that appeared to show Giuliani in a compromising position with a young female journalist. In the scene, Giuliani has his hands down his pants after a woman posing as a reporter ushers him into a hotel suite bedroom for a drink post-interview. What has followed is a maelstrom of competing narratives: a concerning footage from the film, Giuliani's attempted defense, and of course, an unrelenting Sacha Baron Cohen who continues to make jokes about the situation as Borat.

With the movie officially available to audiences, viewers have access to assess the scene for themselves. But the story of Giuliani's involvement in the film goes back far beyond this week. And from the start, Giuliani definitely left out some details about his first bizarre brush with Cohen and the interview that appears in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

The Scene Was Filmed in Summer and Giuliani Called Police Afterward

In late July, Rudy Giuliani went to the Mark Hotel for what he believed was a legitimate interview about how the Trump administration has handled COVID-19. In Giuliani's initial account, he said that Cohen burst in during the wearing a pink lace bikini, yelling and screaming before running out again. Giuliani, faced with the grave threat of a person in a bikini, called the cops.

"This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit," Giuliani told Page Six, after the incident. "It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive." Despite a detailed description of Cohen, Page Six did not report that Giuliani revealed any information about having moved to the bedroom or that he was caught on the bed.

"I only later realized it must have been Sacha Baron Cohen. I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me,” said afterward. Cohen was seen running out of the hotel in a bathrobe, sprinting down 77th Street. He was not apprehended. Giuliani did admit he was a fan of Cohen's movies. Page Six also noted that Giuliani assumed a Borat accent and said, "‘She is my sister. She is number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan," noting that he loved that line because he, too, has been to Kazakhstan.

Footage From the Film Showed Events Differently From What Giuliani Described

On Oct. 20, Amazon gave journalists advanced screeners of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which shows the full scene of the prank that Sacha Baron Cohen pulled on Giuliani this summer. The scene stars newcomer actress Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat's daughter Tutar Sagdiyev, as she's interviewing Giuliani as a conservative journalist covertly planning to offer herself to Donald Trump's lawyer as a concubine. Cohen makes a brief appearance in the interview as a sound guy, carrying a boom, but the interview continues.

Through the interview, Tutar touches Giuliani's leg, shares a drink with him, and eventually suggests the two should have a drink in the bedroom of the hotel suite in which she is interviewing him. There, it appears that Tutar removes a microphone from Giuliani's shirt and jacket. At that point, Giuliani lays on the bed and puts his hands inside his pants after saying, "You can give me your phone number and your address." At this point, Cohen appears in lacy pink underwear to stop the interview, saying, "She 15! She too old for you!" Giuliani lets out a brief, "ope!" and bolts up from the bed. After a brief exchange with Giuliani, Cohen and Bakalova (her age is listed as 24 years old on IMDB) fled the scene.

Giuliani Responds... and So Does Borat

The scene as it appears in the movie is significantly different from how Giuliani characterized the events of the fake interview this summer. A few hours after a screengrab of the scene appeared online showing Giuliani reaching into his pants, he responded to the footage on Twitter.

"The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment," Giuliani said in a statement. "At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar."

About an hour before the final Presidential debate of 2020, Cohen took to social media, dressed as Borat, to "defend" Giuliani in a video, saying, "What was a innocent sexy time encounter between a consenting man and my 15-year-old daughter has been turned into something disgusting by fake news media. I warn you, anyone else try this, and Rudolph will not hesitate to reach into his legal briefs and whip out his subpoenas."

No matter how you interpret it, one thing is certain: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now and audiences have a chance to decide for themselves what happened in that room.

What Has Actress Maria Bakalova Said of the Scene?

In her first interview as herself since the movie dropped on Amazon, actress Maria Bakalova appeared on Good Morning America to discuss her experience during the Giuliani scene.

"I want to thank you. I was sure you were going to save me from everything," she told Cohen during their joint interview on the morning news program. When the interviewer asked her if she felt unsafe in the room with Giuliani, Bakalova said: "No, that's what I'm saying. I always felt safe with our team, with our crew, with Sacha in my corner...I never felt that I'd be in danger...that's why I'm lucky, because I had them."

Cohen added that he was "quite concerned" for Bakalova during the scene, but was in a hidden spot nearby monitoring what was happening. "It's my responsibility as a producer as well to ensure that the lead actor is looked after," he said.

You Might Also Like