Probably the wildest movie scene of 2020 and surely the most talked-about, the climax of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” finds Rudy Giuliani in a compromising position in front of Maria Bakalova, who plays Kazakh journalist Borat’s daughter Tutar. According to one of the film’s producers, Monica Levinson, during a Producers Guild of America virtual panel held on Saturday, shooting that very scene almost tangled the crew in some legal trouble. Giuliani, who has denied any bad behavior captured by the movie, tried to have the crew arrested, according to Levinson. (Deadline picked up quotes from the panel.)
“He claimed we were trying to extort him at the time,” Levinson said. “He called all of his New York City cops and said, ‘Extortion,’ which was a federal crime. Very smart to bring that up.” Levinson also said that the hotel locked the crew out of the room where the footage was captured, though they had already transferred it out of the suite.
“That’s always out first,” Levinson said. “We would hide tapes in our pants. There’s always ways to make sure we got out the data.” Still, once locked out, they couldn’t get access to the equipment they’d used to shoot the scene, according to Levinson.
“We actually had to rent new equipment,” Levinson said. “It was a really stressful time that evening because the hotel wouldn’t let us take anything out of the rooms.”
Levinson also recalled being arrested, and spending 19 days in jail, during the production of the 2006 original film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” an experience that led her to get ahead of the situation with Giuliani.
“We ended up confabbing with our lawyers,” she said. “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.”
“Borat” is now up for two Oscars including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for newcomer Maria Bakalova, who was 23 at the time of filming the interview with Giuliani, though her character was meant to be 15. Read IndieWire’s oral history of the scene here.