Nine months after the film’s release in the fall of 2020, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is still generating discussion for its dark portrayal of right-wing America, with Sacha Baron Cohen using his typical bait-and-switch tactics. The Daily Beast recently sat down with Baron Cohen’s creative partner Dan Mazer, a co-writer on the original film and sequel and one of the creators behind the Ali G character, to talk about their collaborations. Of course, the topic of “Borat 2” came up, and inevitably the conversation turned to an infamous scene near the film’s end where former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani winds up in a compromising position in a hotel room with star Maria Bakalova posing as an underage broadcast journalist.
Giuliani has claimed he was merely tucking in his shirt during a moment that finds him lying on his back in the hotel room in front of Bakalova, but Mazer still isn’t buying that excuse.
“He seemed to really be enjoying tucking in his shirt is all I would say,” Mazer said. “He was very diligent to make sure it was absolutely tucked in, making sure that there was no chance of that shirt ever coming out. He wasn’t the brightest legal brain of Trump’s regime, and it wasn’t exactly the greatest alibi ever created. No, he was not tucking.”
In terms of orchestrating the scene, Mazer said, “I write with Sacha and write ordinary scripted narrative comedy films as well, and it’s insane the amount of effort you put into writing a scene for an ‘orthodox’ movie. You’ll do 20 drafts of it, spend two days filming it with 40 different setups, lighting, camera, costumes, and then go edit it. We have to do it in one take with one camera — sometimes two cameras — with at least one person in the scene who doesn’t know they’re in the scene, and we have to make it as satisfying creatively as a scene in any other movie. When you add to that that it’s someone of the stature of Rudy Giuliani that you have to get on his own, in the middle of a pandemic, and make sure he doesn’t suspect anything, it’s just an absolute tightrope. You’ve put so much into it, you only have one shot at it, and you know it has to be brilliant.”
Read IndieWire’s oral history of the scene here.