It would be an understatement to say it was a surprise when Sacha Baron Cohen brought his hapless Kazakh journalist Borat back for a second outing, 14 years after the original raucous comedy reached our screens in 2006 – but even more surprising is the fact that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is now a fully deserving Oscar nominee, thanks to a breakout performance from Maria Bakalova as Borat’s long lost daughter, Tutar. The Bulgarian actress is going up against Glenn Close, Youn Yuh-jung, Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Colman, and she can’t believe her luck.

“I lost my mind!” Bakalova tells Empire in the new issue, remembering the moment she found out she was nominated. “Even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine something that amazing. It’s insane.” The actress was on the set of Judd Apatow’s forthcoming Netflix comedy _The Bubble___ shooting a scene with Pedro Pascal when the nominations were announced – which she was reluctant to watch at the time.

“I had said, ‘No, please! I just want to keep working,’” Bakalova says. “But I started freaking out: my hands were in the shot, and you could see they were shaking.” Now over the initial shock, the Borat star can’t wait for the ceremony – more than anything else, to finally enjoy a reunion with her onscreen dad at the awards. “I haven’t seen Sacha since October, when we went to do Good Morning America,” she says. “That’s the other reason why I’m extremely excited for the Oscars.”

Empire – June 2021 cover – Tom Hiddleston

Read Empire’s full Maria Bakalova story in the upcoming Tom Hiddleston issue, on sale Thursday 15 April and available to pre-order online now here. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

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