Entertainment

Who Is the Amazing Actress Playing the Daughter in 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm'?

Meet Maria Bakalova, the scene-stealer behind Tutar.

maria bakalova, tutar, borat
Maria Bakalova with Rudy Giuliani | Amazon Prime
Maria Bakalova with Rudy Giuliani | Amazon Prime

The breakout star of Amazon Prime's Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is far and away Maria Bakalova, the virtually unknown actress who plays Tutar, Borat's daughter. Who is this person? Why is she so funny? Bakalova gives a performance that, dare I say, is Oscar-worthy. Over the course of the movie, she transforms from a babbling, neglected girl living in a barn who longs for a cage to call her own into a Tomi Lahren lookalike with a right-wing news show to go along with it. (These "credentials" are what got her access to Rudy Giuliani in the film's most newsworthy moment.)

Tutar gives the Borat sequel its bizarre heart. Her need to be accepted by her father fuels the plot, while her father slowly opens up to the possibility that women are not, as he has long believed, subhuman creatures. They make a truly hilarious odd couple confusing people across America, like when they perform a "moon blood dance" at a debutante ball.

But who is Maria Bakalova? We don't know much about her, but here's what we have.

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Borat and Tutar dancing | Amazon Prime

Where is Maria Bakalova from? 

Bulgaria! 

Does she have any previous acting credits? 

According to IMDb, yes, she's actually worked quite a bit in her home country. Last year, she appeared in The Father, a film by Bulgarian directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov that played at the Karlovy Film Festival and got a bit of U.S. coverage. She also had a role in the critically acclaimed Italian TV series Gomorrah, which streams on HBO Max. So she's not a total newcomer to the entertainment industry. 

Is she really 15 years old? 

No. One of the most horrifying moments of the movie is when Rudy Giuliani appears to be about to make advances on a girl who, in context, is 15. If the internet (read: Wikipedia) is correct, Bakalova is actually 24.

How did she get the part? 

In an interview alongside Cohen on Good Morning America, Bakalova explained that part of the audition process was interacting with real people as Tutar with Borat in tow. Cohen explained that she won the role over 600 other women from "all around the world," and what really sealed the deal was when she made him emotional during the scene where Tutar and Borat go their separate ways. 

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Borat and Tutar | Amazon Prime

Who is Irina Nowak? 

In early press releases for Subsequent Moviefilm, Sacha Baron Cohen and Irina Nowak were the credited stars. But who is Irina Nowak? It seems, at this point, that "Irina Nowak" is a red herring, meant to keep Bakalova's identity a mystery for as long as possible. The great joke of Borat is that Borat is real, thus knowing that Tutar is portrayed by someone who makes her living as an actor sucks some of life out of the illusion. 

Has Bakalova made any other appearances as Tutar? 

Yes! When promoting a movie like this, Cohen often does press in character and this time Bakalova is along for the ride. Hence, we can enjoy this clip of her stealing Jimmy Kimmel's pants. Bakalova has been playing Tutar in public as recently as September. Borat's Twitter account posted a clip of Tutar cozying up with a reporter for the far-right OAN and winning an invite to the White House. No COVID test needed!

Will she get nominated for an Oscar? 

Well, Cohen will be campaigning for her. He told GMA: "If she doesn't get nominated for an Oscar that's a travesty." And, honestly, she deserves it. 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.
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