When Stephen Colbert used his monologue last week to call B.S. on Rudy Giuliani’s excuses for getting caught in a hotel bed with Borat’s daughter, the Late Show host promised that he would get the bottom of it all when Sacha Baron Cohen appeared as his guest this Monday.
As ubiquitous as Baron Cohen has been leading up to the premiere of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm—streaming now on Amazon Prime Video—it is still relatively rare for the British actor to sit down for interviews as himself. So Colbert wasted no time trying to get him to reveal the many secrets behind his latest project.
“The last time there was a Borat film, in 2006, Donald Trump wasn’t president of the United States, but everything there was leading up to this moment, I’m sure,” Colbert said. Now that Trump himself has responded to the movie by calling Baron Cohen a “creep” and a “phony,” the host asked, “Do you have any defense against those two accusations?”
“Well, I’m sure when he was hanging out with his good friend Jeffrey Epstein, they probably spent a lot of their time talking about how creepy I am,” Baron Cohen replied, before admitting that he is a “professional phony, like him.”
From there, he looked back on the one and only time he interviewed Trump as Ali G back in 2003. “Publicly he will say, ‘I was the only guy who saw through it,’” Baron Cohen said. “He didn’t see through the interview. He answered all the questions completely normally.”
Colbert then asked his guest about one of the most elaborate pranks in the new film that ends with Borat singing an original song about the “Wuhan flu” in character as Borat pretending to be a QAnon-obsessed country music singer.
“Everyone was singing along and the problem was that some of the militia groups that were in this rally had been antagonizing the Black Lives Matter protesters, so as revenge some of the Black Lives Matter protesters were coming over to confront them,” Baron Cohen said, explaining that he wasn’t the only one “going undercover” at the rally in Washington state. “One of them went, ‘Oh my god, it’s Sacha Baron Cohen!’ Word got out that it was me, and then the organizers and a lot of people in the crowd got very angry. They tried to storm the stage. Luckily for me, I had hired the security, so it took them a while to actually storm the stage.”
After playing some exclusive footage that revealed how Baron Cohen escaped that precarious situation, Colbert asked if that kind of thing happens to him frequently.
“It happens occasionally,” Baron Cohen said, adding. “This is the first movie where I’ve had to wear a bulletproof vest.” In the film, Borat actually spends five days “quarantining” with two QAnon followers. “That meant waking up the first thing in the morning, the moment I came out of my bedroom, to going to sleep at night,” he explained. “They thought I was a foreign guy who didn’t understand much about coronavirus.”
As promised, Colbert had to ask about the now infamous Giuliani scene. “He has denied that he actually was doing anything untoward toward this 24-year-old woman playing your 15-year-old daughter,” the host said. “Do you have anything to say to Rudy Giuliani about going into a bedroom with supposedly a teenage girl to drink whiskey and zip your pants up and down?”
“Well, he said that he did nothing inappropriate and, you know, my feeling is, if he sees that as appropriate, then heaven knows what he’s intended to do with other women in hotel rooms with a glass of whiskey in his hand,” Baron Cohen replied. “I mean, I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, so I would just say see it and make your own mind up.”
Baron Cohen explained that Giuliani “thought he was alone” with the Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat’s daughter in the film, but actually Baron Cohen was standing in a hidden wardrobe ready to pop out at the right moment. He also revealed that Giuliani had a private security guard seated outside the room “ensuring that no one could come in and out, which is actually even more scary, when you think about it, for her.”
He ended this portion of the interview by singing the praises of Bakalova, who was entirely unknown to American audiences before her breakout performance at Borat’s daughter Tutar.
“I didn’t want to start filming until we found the perfect daughter for Borat,” he said. “And it’s a tough order because you have to be an incredible improviser, you have to be able to stay in character for many, many hours, you have to be able to play emotionally in the reality of the scenes, and you have to be hilarious. So we interviewed 500 different actors, and we eventually found this woman who had just come out of drama school.”
“I mean, if she doesn’t win an Oscar, then I don’t know what the academy is for,” he added.
For more, listen to Sacha Baron Cohen on The Last Laugh podcast.