When Maria Bakalova auditioned for "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," she wasn't quite sure if she was legitimately vying for a movie role or if it was a guise for something far more nefarious.
"I [recorded the tape] at 5 a.m., after my prom at the university," she told James Corden, "and a friend of mine shot it for like a joke. I was extremely scared that this was something sketchy, it's not a real audition, they're gonna try to do human trafficking on me."
At the time, the fact that a "Borat" sequel was in the works was a closely-guarded secret, so details of the film were intentionally vague.
Maria would soon send in a few other audition tapes, and she eventually flew to England to meet "Borat" star Sacha Baron Cohen.
"My mom was crying. She was like, 'I'm never going to see you again,'" she said, "And I was like, 'Maybe.'"
Once the film was out, Maria's mother's nervousness switched to sadness.
"My mom Facetimed me after she watched the movie," Bakalova said. "And she was so sad. Her eyes were full of tears. She was crying for maybe two hours. And because she's kind of a masochist, obviously, she watched it twice and she was even more sad."
Since her role as Borat's daughter Tutar, Maria has been earning all kinds of praise. Maria also achieved a bit of mythical status for her part in the viral moment in the movie involving Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.
In the scene, Maria's character poses as a TV journalist. Following the faux interview, Rudy and the actress retreated to a hotel bedroom rigged with concealed cameras. Video showed Rudy touching her, lying back on the bed, fiddling with his untucked shirt and reaching his hand into his pants. The former New York City mayor has denied anything salacious happened — he claims he was simply reclined to tuck in his shirt — but others aren't buying it.
In speaking to James, Maria described the filming of the Rudy Giuliani scene as "nerve-racking."
"Rudy Giuliani actually did call the police," she said. "But we did nothing illegal. So we left the place together… and we were happy! It's like a family moment."