One would assume that Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova was at least a little bit tense during that now-notorious Borat scene where she — posing as a TV journalist for a conservative network — invites Rudy Giuliani to her hotel bedroom for a drink after interviewing him, and where a lascivious Giuliani reclines on her bed and creeps his hands down his trousers. (She’s 24, he’s 76.) And now, in an interview with the New York Times, she has confirmed that, yes, filming that scene was, indeed, about as uncomfortable as you’d imagine.
Bakalova said her “heart was racing” before the scene, but she fully trusted Sacha Baron Cohen — who plays her father in the film — to “save” her from Giuliani, whom she knew of “because 9/11.” And Baron Cohen did: In the footage, after Giuliani strokes Bakalova’s back, asks for her phone number and address, and puts his hands in his pants, Baron Cohen bursts into the room wearing lingerie and yells, “She’s 15! She too old for you!” Giuliani later called the police, and Bakalova ultimately escaped unscathed. But if Baron Cohen had been late, she tells the Times, “I don’t know how things were going to go.”
Giuliani has denied any impropriety. The days after his appearance started to garner headlines, he defended himself in a series of vehement tweets, arguing that he was merely tucking in his shirt, and that “at no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate.” He also called the video a “complete fabrication.”
When asked about Giuliani’s insistence that he was merely adjusting his clothing, Bakalova took a long pause, then replied, “What do you think he was doing?”
And Bakalova wasn’t the only person on set who seemed alarmed by Giuliani’s demeanor in the hotel room. Last month, Baron Cohen told Good Morning America that he, too, was “quite concerned” during filming, and questioned Giuliani’s personal moral code, saying, “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.”