After releasing “Borat” in 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen said there had been an assumption that it would be impossible to make a sequel. However, he said his team felt that they had to take a stand when American democracy was fragile.
“Under [President] Trump, that kind of dark underbelly of society became mainstream,” Baron Cohen said. “If Trump had another term, we would see a very different type of democracy, more like a Turkish one or a Russian one.”
In the Variety Streaming Room, hosted by deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley, the cast and crew of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” discuss the reasons they decided to move forward with a sequel. While producer Monica Levinson said she was intimidated by the idea, she thought it was the right time to release a sequel, especially with the #MeToo movement.
“We had a president that was openly talking about grabbing women by the vagina and people applauding that,” Levinson said. “So I felt like this could be the right time. We shouldn’t be litigating women’s rights anymore.”
Peter Baynham, who served as a writer on the film, said his team toyed around with bringing Borat back because they missed him, but that there needed to be a reason to bring him back beyond that. Baynham said the addition of Borat’s teenage daughter, Tutar Sagdiyev (Maria Bakalova), was the key element that persuaded him.
“The first movie set out to obviously expose things like racism and antisemitism,” Baynham said. “It seemed that during the Trump era that a lot of the public was doing a very good job of doing that without prompting. So it felt like it needed another angle on it as well. And I think when they came up with the idea of Borat and his daughter, I think that’s what really made feel like a great, important movie to make now.”
Producer and writer Anthony Hines said that his team knew from the very beginning that introducing Tutar’s character was essential to the core of the movie.
“It’s not a conventionally scripted movie,” Hines said. “We’re asking a 23-year-old actor to do something she’s never done before. We weren’t sure initially if we [could] find the person or if she could pull it off, but when it became apparent she could, we fully embraced it.
Erran Baron Cohen, Sacha’s older brother, returned as the composer for the sequel. He said a big function of the score was to enhance the dramatic arc of the father-daughter storyline.
“The music had to be really emotional,” Baron Cohen said. “A lot of it was using the clarinet, the accordion, the gypsy violin, and then lots of ethnic percussion. And then it also had the orchestra. So all that came together to enhance that emotional story.”
Watch the full conversation above.