Maria Bakalova On The Oscars, Her 'Guardian Angel' Sacha Baron Cohen And Bulgarian Food

Olivia Blair
·2-min read
Photo credit: Pool
Photo credit: Pool

As the Oscars bring the 2021 awards season to a close, it marks the end of a whirlwind few months for Maria Bakalova.

With her first international film, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), Bakalova has won a Critics Choice award and been nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Oscar.

All with her very first film.

The Bulgarian native was selected from hundreds of ambitious actresses by Sacha Baron Cohen to play his daughter, Tutar, in the long-awaited satirical sequel chronicling the misadventures of Baron Cohen's infamous and controversy-driving Kazakhstani journalist character.

Immediately after the release of the comedy, Bakalova received huge critical acclaim and praise for her hilarious and brave performance, including the most talked-about scene, involving then-President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

When Baron Cohen appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last Autumn he said, 'If Maria doesn't win an Oscar, then I don't know what the Academy is for.'

Well, on the day of the 2021 Oscars, ELLE UK joined Bakalova while she was preparing for the awards - wearing a stunning white gown by Louis Vuitton (featuring 100 metre of tulle) - where she was indeed nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar along with Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari), the latter who walked away with the award on the night.

During a game of Ask Me Anything, Bakalova recounted how she discovered she was nominated for an Oscar, courtesy of the director on her next project, The Bubble, Judd Apatow.

Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

'I either jumped or fell on the floor. It was a mixture of emotions,' she tells us.

Bakalova's most nerve-wracking scene in a movie surely full of nerve-wracking scenes were the ones where she was acting by herself and not in her duo with Baron Cohen, she tells us, like in the Conservative women's meeting and the 'interview' with Giuliani.

She has nothing but praise for her partner-in-crime Baron Cohen, who she calls 'My guardian angel, and I wish every actress had a guardian angel like Sacha Baron Cohen.'

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