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‘Borat 2’ Had to Make Up COVID Safety Rules

Sacha Baron Cohen is three for 3: “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” met its deadline and was launched earlier than the 2020 election, his want to see Donald Trump out of workplace has come true and each he and his movie emerged victorious on the Golden Globes this previous Sunday. But if it wasn’t for some fast pondering, COVID-19 — and probably Rudy Giuliani — might have ruined all that.

Cohen — together with director Jason Woliner, author Peter Baynham and producers Anthony Hines and Monica Levinson — joined TheWrap’s Awards Screening Series on Monday to debate the making of one in every of 2020’s most talked-about movies. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” was a sequel Cohen wished to make not lengthy after Trump took workplace, although plans to get the cameras rolling didn’t come collectively till 2019. But whereas Cohen was touring all through the U.S. final yr as his well-known Kazakh alter-ego, the pandemic hit.

Levinson mentioned the crew believed the pause on manufacturing wouldn’t last more than a pair weeks. But Cohen, who was in touch with epidemiologists, advised them how severe the scenario was. So although little was identified concerning the virus — and Hollywood guilds had been nonetheless months away from putting in official COVID-19 protocols — the “Borat” workforce needed to make up their very own security guidelines to be able to end the movie and get it launched earlier than the 2020 election.

“I think it was around May 15 that we said, ‘If we don’t start June 15, we’re not going to finish,’” Levinson advised TheWrap. “We worked with an amazing group of people that advised, and in fact, we were slightly ahead of the industry. We were the first people out, so we had to be stricter in our protocols to make sure we were protecting everybody. We went out with a really cool testing machine that was brand new… we were doing five tests a week. I’m sure Sacha’s nose was not comfortable.”

Of course, when filming pranks round right-wing protesters and political figures who don’t imagine within the significance of carrying masks, these security protocols solely accomplish that a lot. And when it got here time to movie the now-infamous prank interview between Borat’s daughter (Maria Bakalova) and Rudy Giuliani, the crew needed to make a last-minute determination after Giuliani refused to do a COVID check.

“We gave our word… to the rest of the crew,” Cohen mentioned. “We had a very strict rule: no one gets in a closed room with us if they haven’t been tested. Rudy shows up and he refuses to do a COVID test. We had a sit-down with Maria and told her that there’s a risk. Maria felt very strongly that she had to do the scene.”

At the time, no one on the “Borat” workforce had any thought how integral Giuliani would change into to Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the 2020 election; they usually actually didn’t have any concept that Giuliani’s actions throughout that scene would make political headlines. They simply knew that for the core arc of their movie — the connection between Borat and the daughter that has unexpectedly come into his life — the scene with Trump’s authorized counsel was important.

“We tried to ingest all the father-daughter movies, all these arranged marriage movies… for the scene where they’re trying to stop the ring from going on the finger,” Cohen mentioned. “Structurally, it was almost like a killer with the murder weapon and Borat has to get in there and stop the fatal blow. So really, we ran out of time. If that scene hadn’t worked, the movie would not have been as impactful.”

Watch the total interview with Cohen and the “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” workforce within the clip above.

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