Not many actors get the rocket ride experience that Maria Bakalova did with the 2020 movie Borat Baadhi. She wasn’t just catapulted to celebrity through her role as Tutar Sagdiyev, the teenage daughter of Sacha Baron Cohen’s bumbling and forever aggressive Kazakh journalist.

She was at the center of the mockumentary’s most jaw-dropping, buzzy scene, which ends with Rudy Giuliani horizontal on a bed. Bakalova received Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her work, and soon found herself working with director Judd Apatow (on The Bubble) and meeting Hollywood stalwarts .

Her latest film, Bodies Bodies, is a dark comedic psychological horror film directed by Halina Reason. Bakalova portrays Bea, a young, working-class college student who, along with her new girlfriend Sophie (Amandala Stenberg), goes to a “hurricane party” with later childhood friends at a remote mansion. When a murder-in-the-dark party game turns deadly real, Bee finds herself pushed to extremes, unsure who to trust.

AV Club recently chatted with 26-year-old Bakalova about her body of work, her Borat audition experience, social media, joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and more. Below is an excerpt of the conversation.

Maria Bakalova: I think we’ve already incredibly advanced the script, because I was always hoping for a great production. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed with the stuff A24 puts out there. It’s so contemporary and relatable and interesting and at the same time high quality—an advanced mix of styles. So I was ready that it was going to be good.

But with Halina on board, [cinematographer] Jasper Wolf also on board, these are the two people who have made our film magic even bigger and higher. As well as incredible artists with so many dedicated, talented people—smart and ready to be covered in blood and mud, with giant rain machines flying toward our faces for eight hours.

Seeing it on screen, I’m like, “Wow, I’m so lucky,” and it’s beautiful. It speaks to my generation but at the same time I think it’s a universal experience because people who are much older or even younger can relate to the film, because it’s about the time and the real world in which we live. live.

MB: That’s a very interesting question. They are like “maniacs”. They call each other friends based on shared memories and some past experiences that may have been made by their parents, who decided to bring these people together because their families have been friends. We don’t know anything about it. But both have come to spend a lot of time together.

If these people met each other today [for the first time] I’m not sure they would really be friends. But when you get into this path of toxic relationships, it can be even more toxic because they are all built on lies and secrets and don’t communicate at all, mostly just your phone and the internet and social media. – Whatever is not bad [in itself], because if you use it properly it can be very beneficial for a large audience, for a bigger message to the universe in which we live. But somehow we compare ourselves to the images we see there and we just use language we don’t know the meaning of sometimes.

So it’s interesting – how do you get back to actual communication that supposedly should exist, but we lack because of the tools we’ve been given. This is definitely something that can be influenced by social media, technology, this new world in which we live. But at the end of the day, I think there’s only so much we can do based on our decisions. Then, if you use [social media] properly, if you use it in a way that can help someone, dive in, there’s nothing wrong with that.

MB: Yes, I did a backstory for him. Usually when I start working on something I make biographies of the characters I am working on. It’s actually still on my computer somewhere and I’ll be excited to go back one day and read it because I think I wrote it one night while I was shooting The Bubble in England.

There was a time when we were like, “Okay, the movie probably will happen,” so I knew I had to go to work. And then I started talking to Halina. We started discussing where the bee is coming from, why she is behaving like this, why she is keeping a mystery because she seems to be a really nice person.

So why does he need to lie? And maybe it’s all driven by fear – will she be rejected if she doesn’t live up to one’s expectation? She is prioritizing the care of her mother and family rather than herself as a person, and how do you deal with the fear of loss? Because she may lose her mother if she doesn’t take care of him, but in this way she is losing herself.

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