Rudolph Giuliani’s embarrassing interview in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” provided the comedy smash with its most meme-able, headline-grabbing moment.
But the former New York City mayor and personal attorney to one Donald J. Trump wasn’t the only member of the 45th president’s circle of friends, family and advisors that team Borat targeted. At one point, the filmmakers thought about inducing the “My Pillow Guy” to sit down for a one-on-one with Tutar, the daughter of Borat who is played unforgettably by Maria Bakalova. Mike Lindell, the company’s founder, is a frequent advertiser on Fox News and an enthusiastic supporter of Trump.
“We had this crazy idea to do a socially distanced interview with Mike Lindell and Borat’s daughter, and since we couldn’t do it indoors, we’d do it in the edge of the woods or some kind of wasteland,” says Anthony Hines, the producer and co-writer of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” “There would be a mattress there with a load of MyPillow products and Borat would find Mike Lindell at the edge of the woods in a bed with his daughter. The MyPillow guy would then have to explain what the hell was going on. That was just one harebrained alternative to the scene that ended up in the movie.”
Other possible targets included Donald Trump Jr. and even the big man himself.
“In sort of like a crazy pipe dream world, Giuliani would have been Donald Trump,” says Hines. “But we had 20 to 30 people in the Trump universe that could have been the subject of that interview, and with the possible exception of Trump himself, Giuliani was the one we wanted the most.”
Baron Cohen, who recently sat down via Zoom with Variety for an extensive cover story on his life and career, notes that the process of making a Borat movie relies on a lot of luck along with some outrageous ideas.
“This is an absurd movie to write down,” says Baron Cohen. “The screenplay for this was ludicrous. We had a table read where we got comedy friends and wrote in lines for the real people with what we hoped they would say. [Our friends] said, ‘This is great but it’s obviously impossible to make. You’re going to end with Rudy Giuliani or Don Jr. and Borat’s daughter goes to sleep with them and Borat runs in to save her. This is an impossible movie to make.'”
In the end, Baron Cohen and his team successfully convinced Giuliani to sit down for an interview by promising to quiz him on Trump’s “heroic” efforts to defeat coronavirus. What followed was a scene in which Giuliani flirts with Tutar, asking for her contact information before lying down on a bed and putting his hand down his pants (the former mayor says he was tucking his shirt in after taking off his microphone. The Borat cast and crew disagree).
“We felt we had to get somebody right at the center of [Trump’s] circle to show the misogyny at the heart of Trump-ism,” says Baron Cohen. “Part of the reason that we felt that was so important to do was that we knew that women would swing the election. We felt that if we could make this really funny movie that reminded people that this president was outwardly a misogynist and everyone around him was proud of their disrespect for women, it might compel some women, even if they were Trump supporters, to maybe reconsider.”
Joe Biden ultimately managed to defeat Trump, even if the president still refuses to concede the election. For his part, Baron Cohen says he revived Borat, his most popular character, as a form of social protest.
“I felt I had to be able to look myself in the mirror on Nov. 4 and say I did what I could to stop the disintegration of democracy and stop this slide into authoritarianism,” says Baron Cohen.