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Why ‘Borat’ Fan Favorite Luenell Isn’t in the Sequel but Got Paid Anyway

Exclusive: "Borat" breakout Luenell is curiously absent from the sequel, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm." Here's why.

Luenell and Sacha Baron Cohen in "Borat"

Luenell and Sacha Baron Cohen in “Borat”

20th Century Fox

UPDATE: During a Reddit AMA this week, Sacha Baron Cohen posing as Borat offered a response as to why Luenell isn’t included in the movie (typos courtesy of Borat): “I miss her too! I am sad! When I return from where I was in Gulag for 14 year, I find she have return to US&A because she learn that since McDonald Trump take power, black people are treat like royalty! The police especial are nice to Africans – they love them so much they follow them in their cars, and stop them many times to make a chitty chat. They even take their name and addresses to they can stay in touch! And give them shiny bracelets to wear. Some policemen like black peeoples so much they risk Covid by giving them really big hugs as tight as a mans; anoos around their neck! Why not? They like!”

EARLIER: “Borat” fans” tuning into the controversial sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” this weekend on Amazon Prime might be struck by a notable absence: Luenell, the comedian and actress who was one of the few hired actors in the 2006 original. Luenell plays a fictional prostitute in “Borat” who is last seen marrying the title character (Sacha Baron Cohen) and returning with him to his Kazakhstan home. Luenell took to Instagram on Friday after she discovered that she is not featured in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” despite being paid for the sequel. (The actress is listed as a credited star in Amazon’s metadata.)

“Apparently my husband BORAT is giving out money for no reason because your girl did Not make the cut in the film (news to me) but I made the cut at the nank. Last time that I checked….we were married and had two biracial children but maybe he hooked up with Pamela Anderson,” she wrote, referring to the end of the first “Borat” film, where Borat and Luenell become romantically involved after he’s rejected by Pamela Anderson. (See Luenell’s Instagram post below.)

Why isn’t Luenell in the “Borat” sequel? According to a source close to the production, there had been discussions early on about including the comedian in the new movie directed by Jason Woliner. Because of her union status at SAG-AFTRA, Luenell was compensated for her likeness to be considered. The source added that it was initially unclear how Luenell might be featured in the film, whether in newly shot scenes, pre-existing unseen footage, or stock material. Alas, due to COVID-19’s impact on film and TV production throughout this year, logistics became complicated, and she was ultimately not included. Filming on “Borat 2” began as early as late last year in Texas and wrapped this past summer.

Luenell was evidently under the impression that she’d be somehow featured in the movie, writing on Instagram at the beginning of this week, “BORAT 2 comes out in six days on Amazon Prime Video. A lot of my Black people slept on this movie 11 years ago when it made its groundbreaking debut and was nominated for an Academy Award. I think we are all fully woke now, so grab ur popcorn and hold on.”

Luenell has made a name for herself in other Hollywood productions since “Borat,” including with a small role in 2018’s “A Star Is Born,” a role in “Dolemite Is My Name,” plus appearances in “The Last O.G.” and “Black Jesus.”

IndieWire has reached out to additional representatives on the film for comment.

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