Jason Woliner interview: ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ director
“The reason why he wanted to bring this character back was because of Trump and Trumpism and what it has done to America,” declares director Jason Woliner about why Oscar nominee Sacha Baron Cohen wanted to revive his famous Borat character in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” the acclaimed follow-up to the 2006 smash hit mockumentary “Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Woliner above.
In “Borat 2,” Borat embarks on a new stateside mission to offer up his 15-year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova), to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. In a series of uproarious scenes mostly filmed in secret, Borat and Tutar uncover, often brutally, the hideous underbelly of an America plagued by division, disinformation and prejudice. They eventually return to the motherland as acclaimed Kazakh journalists after run-ins with right-wing media, appearances at a Georgia gun rally, a pro-life clinic, the Conservative Political Action Conference and most notoriously,Donald Trump‘s disgraced personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Since its release on Amazon Prime Video, the Borat sequel has been warmly received by critics and it has become one of the most successful streaming titles of 2020. Breakout star Bakalova in particular has been racking up accolades across the country from various critics groups, much to the delight of Baron Cohen and Woliner.
“On our first day of shooting,” he regales, “she was wondering whether she did a good job and I remember saying to her and to people around us, ‘I think you’re going to get an Oscar for this,'” he laughs knowingly. “Why I said that is because I recognized immediately that what she’s doing is so unique and is so incredible. On one hand going toe to toe with Sacha, who is the best at what he does, and then also she’s carrying this amazing emotional weight and getting people to love this character and invest in her story.”
Looking back to the making of the film, Woliner admits that cast and crew were under enormous pressure to deliver on the original hit. Everything hinged on perfectly timed and meticulously planned set ups, while also ensuring the narrative stayed consistent throughout the film. “I was up most nights, worried that we were making a bad movie,” he laughs. “That it wouldn’t come together or would be kind of forgettable or an embarrassment for Sacha. That was my nightmare. I didn’t want to do a disappointing sequel to what I feel like is the funniest movie of all time. There were a lot of near misses and close calls, but at a certain point I was really determined not to keep worrying about this big picture and really just had to focus in on the decisions of the day, of the scene and do my best and not get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task.”