Before September 8, few people were aware that Sacha Baron Cohen had filmed a sequel to 2006’s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Then the website Collider reported that Cohen had shot the film in secret, before and during the coronavirus pandemic, with an eye toward releasing it before the American presidential election. Six weeks later, Borat 2—officially titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan—isn’t just a reality: it’s available now via Amazon Prime Video.
But despite the top-secret nature of the project, Cohen had actually been hiding his Borat sequel in plain sight for months—drawing both suspecting and unsuspecting headlines about the many stunts he concocted for the new film. Ahead, a spoiler-filled look at the many real-life public figures and institutions that unwittingly played a role in the making of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.Hay House
After returning to America, Borat tries in vain to turn his daughter, Tutar (breakout newcomer Maria Bakalova), into the kind of woman he thinks would be an appropriate gift to Vice President Mike Pence. Tutar meets with Instagram influencer Macy Chanel, who suggests a total makeover—and the transformation leads to a debutante ball, where Borat and Tutar horrify the men and women in attendance with a graphic synchronized dance. It ends with Tutar proudly flashing her crotch, which is covered in fake blood, to the crowd.
This sequence was shot at the Hay House, a historic landmark in Macon, Georgia. Not that the venue’s operations staff was comfortable with what transpired. According to Hay House operations manager Cliff Sims, the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm shoot was allegedly booked under “false pretenses.”
“It was not discussed or approved by the Macon Film Commission,” Sims told a local television station after the Borat 2 trailer was released. “What was discussed with the production company during the initial rental is not what happened or transpired on site.”
Sims said that Borat producers claimed they were filming a coming-of-age story and hired local extras to participate in the stunt. He added that locals had no idea Cohen himself was present for the scene. “We didn’t know it was him until the video came out and one of my coworkers, who was working the event, said, ‘That was him. He was actually here,’” he said.
In a first-person piece published days after the trailer launch, one of the fathers who attended the event with his daughter wrote that attendees had been offered $100 per person to dress up and dance as part of a fictional scene of “Southern belles making their debut.” Those who volunteered were given an online quiz in which they were asked to identify Cohen, with respondents eventually split into two teams. “My friend had discovered that everyone on our Team B were those who could not identify Cohen in the online test,” he wrote.Vice President Mike Pence
Shortly after the Hay House scene, Borat decides to move forward with his plan to give Tutar to the vice president. It’s late February of 2020, and he and Tutar head to the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, to see if they can secure time with Pence, a featured speaker.
Upon arrival, Cohen-as-Borat dresses in Klu Klux Klan robes and storms into the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Fort Washington, Maryland. He claims he’s Stephen Miller. But after he realizes this conspicuous outfit won’t allow him to gain access to Pence, Borat changes course. He dons a bodysuit and face mask to dress as President Donald Trump.
In his speech, Pence is shown downplaying the forthcoming coronavirus crisis. “As of today, we have 15 cases of coronavirus that have been detected in the United States with only one new case detected in the last two weeks,” Pence says. “While the risks to the American public remains low, as the president said yesterday, we’re ready. We’re ready for anything.” It’s at that point in the film that Cohen-as-Borat interrupts, holding Tutar over his shoulder and urging Pence to receive his “gift.”
“I spent five hours in makeup that morning with the prosthetic team changing my face into Trump’s face,” Cohen told the New York Times in an interview before release. “Then I ended up hiding in the bathroom, listening to conservative men go to the toilet for five hours until I broke into the room. We were surrounded by Secret Service and police and internal security.”
At the time, the stunt was covered by the press—but no one connected the disruptive impersonator to Cohen.