I stank at playing Borat’s daughter
Award hopeful accused of being ‘amateurish’ She’s the Bulgarian actress who has become the breakout star of Hollywood’s awards season.
But Maria Bakalova – tipped to win Best Supporting Actress at tonight’s BAFTAs – has left some in her native country raging with her portrayal of Tutar Sagdiyev in the second Borat movie.
Simeon Dimitrov, Maria’s acting teacher from her home town of Burgas, tells Goss: “Here in Bulgaria, unfortunately, some are calling her performance amateurish.
“Some of the local press had a field day with that. And then come the nominations.
“There’s a gulf between how we look at cinema here and how major industries look at them.
“I don’t like this movie
– I don’t like the way it’s made. But she delivered a brilliant performance in it.”
In one scene, Maria, 24, is filmed covering a floor in menstrual blood, while in another she is made to sleep in a cage.
But her most controversial scene sees US lawyer Rudy Giuliani putting his hands down his pants during a hotel room flirtation.
Dimitrov, who taught Maria for three years at Burgas’ National School of Music and Performing
Arts until she was 18, says: “From a moral point of view, I didn’t like that scene – but even there, she once again demonstrated her exceptional talent.
“She managed to completely deceive him. Only a superb actress would be capable to do that.”
And Maria admits she had her own real-life family drama when she was offered the part – her
parents feared she was being lured into a human trafficking scam after she got the pitch from a casting director.
She laughs: “Mum said it was a complete kidnapping situation.
“She cried that she would never see me again.”
After a last-minute audition tape, Maria was flown to England.
But she says: “I called my manager and he was like, ‘I promise you, they won’t kidnap you, they won’t sell your organs and they won’t kill you’. I was scared that would be the last day of my life.” Maria grew up in Burgas, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast.
She had singing lessons and learned to play the flute at six before becoming a classically trained actress.
But the film’s creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, took her under his wing for her first comedy role.
He put her through a series of auditions, meeting people together as
Borat and his daughter.
She says: “They told me to be stinky, dirty and disgusting so I thought, ‘I will go for it’.
“I was shooting another movie so I could not take a shower for 10 days or brush my teeth.
“So I created a secret weapon mixing onions, old eggs, Valerian pills and olive oil together.
“It was probably one of the most disgusting smells you can imagine.”
Maria now lives in LA and has signed with top agency CAA.
She says: “Every day I kept thinking, ‘Am I dreaming? This is going to end soon…’ ”
Here’s hoping her next role gets better reviews in Bulgaria.