Producer Monica Levinson (pictured) claimed Rudy Giuliani tried to have the crew of Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm arrested for extortion after he was caught in an uncompromising position in the infamous ‘honey-trap’ scene
Rudy Giuliani tried to have the crew of Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm arrested for extortion after he was caught in an uncompromising position in the infamous ‘honey-trap’ scene, the film’s producer revealed.
Producer Monica Levinson opened up about the Golden Globe-winning film crew’s interactions with Giuliani while speaking on a Producers Guild of America panel on Saturday.
In perhaps the movie’s most memorable scene, actress Maria Bakalova, who portrayed Borat’s 15-year-old Tutar Sagdiyev, posed as a conservative journalist interviewing Giuliani before leading him into a hotel room.
As Bakalova helped him take off his microphone, Giuliani reclined on a bed and appeared to put his hands down his pants before he was interrupted by Sacha Baron Cohen‘s titular character, who screamed: ‘She’s 15. She’s too old for you.’
Unaware that he had been duped, Giuliani immediately called the police. The former New York City mayor later insisted that he was merely tucking in his shirt, not doing anything untoward.
Recalling the altercation on the PGA panel, Levinson said of Giuliani: ‘He claimed we were trying to extort him at the time, which we didn’t ask for anything.
‘He called all of his New York City cops and said extortion, which was a federal crime. Very smart to bring that up.’
In perhaps the movie’s most memorable scene, actress Maria Bakalova posed as a journalist interviewing Giuliani before leading him to a hotel room. As Bakalova helped him take off his mic, Giuliani reclined on a bed and appeared to put his hands in his pants
Levinson said the hotel locked the crew out of the suite where they filmed the Giuliani scene – but not before they made sure the footage was safe.
‘That’s always out first,’ the producer said, according to Deadline. ‘We would hide tapes in our pants. There’s always ways to make sure we got out the data.’
But Levinson said the ordeal did create issues, as some of the film equipment got locked in the suite.
‘We actually had to rent new equipment,’ she said. ‘It was a really stressful time that evening because the hotel wouldn’t let us take anything out of the rooms.’
She also said that the crew was evacuated to New Jersey that night to make sure no one would be arrested – as she had been during the filming of the first Borat movie over a decade ago.
‘We ended up confabbing with our lawyers,’ Levinson 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,’ she added, referencing when she spent 19 hours in jail during the filming of the first Borat installment.
Giuliani (pictured in November) has insisted that he didn’t do anything untoward in the Borat scene, saying that he was merely tucking in his shirt when he reclined on the bed
Bakalova, a 24-year-old native of Bulgaria, was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Tutar.
She shared her experience filming the Giuliani scene in an interview with the New York Times in November.
Bakalova said she always trusted Cohen, whom she called her ‘nonbiological father’ and ‘guardian angel’, to keep her safe – but that she did get nervous when Giuliani called the cops.
‘I knew [Sacha] would never put me in a dangerous situation. At the same time, we had a security team that was able to save us in a moment,’ Bakalova said when asked if she ever felt like she was in physical danger while filming the movie.
‘Maybe the scene when we were at the hotel and Rudy Giuliani called the police, I was kind of scared that something would happen. But fortunately, we escaped.’
Bakalova said she and Baron prepared for the scene by talking through different scenarios that could take place.
‘In all of the scenarios, I was confident that Sacha will save me and he will save the scene, so it’s not going to be a disaster,’ she said.
Despite having prepared extensively, Bakalova was still nervous. She said Cohen coached her to use her nerves to make the scene more convincing.
She said she had heard of Giuliani before they did the interview, in the context of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, when he was the mayor of New York City.
But she said she didn’t know much about him beyond that because: ‘I’m not American, I don’t get into American politics.’
Maria Bakalova (pictured), a 24-year-old native of Bulgaria, was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Tutar in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm
After the Giuliani scene was leaked online ahead of the movie’s release – sparking rumors that he had knowingly tried to engage in sexual conduct with a minor – the former mayor came out to insist that he was not doing anything inappropriate and was merely tucking in his shirt.
Giuliani also charged that the scene was ‘fabricated’ and branded Cohen a ‘stone-cold liar’.
Bakalova declined to elaborate on her side of the story when probed by Times reporter Dave Itzkoff.
The newspaper reported that she responded with a laugh, saying: ‘I saw everything that you saw. If you saw the movie, that’s our message. We want everybody to see the movie and judge for themselves.’
When pressed to explain what it looked like from her angle, Bakalova said: ‘I believe it’s my back [to the camera] there, we can see what he’s doing in the mirror.’
Bakalova said she was nervous about the Giuliani scene even though she and Cohen had talked through possible scenarios extensively beforehand
Bakalova declined to comment on whether she thought Giuliani was in fact acting inappropriately, saying: ‘We want everybody to see the movie and judge for themselves’
Unsatisfied with that answer, Itzkoff asked again: ‘What do you think was taking place? You’re the only other person who was in the room. Did you have any other indication as to what he was doing?’
But Bakalova punted once again, saying: ‘What do you think he was doing?’
‘I can see how either interpretation could be correct. But I wasn’t there, and you were. Do you have an opinion either way?’ Itzkoff probed.
‘Sacha jumped into the room quickly, because he’s been worried about me,’ Bakalova said. ‘So, if he were late, I don’t know how things were going to go. But he came just in time.’
Asked whether she believed Giuliani knew Tutar was 15 when he agreed to do the interview, Bakalova said she wasn’t sure. ‘I’m not the person who is actually booking these people,’ she said.
Regardless, she says she doesn’t feel bad about the mockery Giuliani has received over the film.
‘Movies like this are showing people’s true colors… It’s going to show Rudy’s real character. You’re responsible for your own decisions,’ she said.