Artists4film is very proud of Nancy Bishop’s work as the European Casting Director of “Borat, the Subsequent Moviefilm” and the discovery of Maria Bakalova, the extraordinary young actress starring as Sacha Baron Cohen’s daughter in Cohen’s latest film. Don’t miss it! Dec 1, 2020 article excerpt:

Casting director Nancy Bishop, who specializes in Eastern European actors, auditioned 500 contenders for the role, and even she didn’t know the full scope of the project.

“I was told I needed to find an Eastern European girl who spoke an Eastern European language as a first language for a comic role, and was given material to audition them with,” Bishop said. “It was mostly improvisation, but eventually they sent me actual text for them to perform to see if they could deliver jokes.”

Over time, Bishop learned of Baron Cohen’s involvement, but that didn’t make the job any easier. “My staff and I all signed strict NDAs, and so did all the actors who auditioned before they got the material,” she said. “Some agents wouldn’t let their clients audition and I couldn’t say, ‘But it’s Sacha Baron Cohen, for god’s sake!’”

Bakalova came to Bishop’s attention through a fleeting role in “The Father,” a well-received Bulgarian road comedy that she saw at the 2019 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Through Bulgarian actor and advocate Julian Kostov, Bishop tracked down Bakalova for a remote audition. She intrigued the filmmaking team enough for an in-person followup in London.

That was where her improv faced the ultimate test. To date, Baron Cohen has been elusive about his pre-production approach, but revealed his expectations to Colbert a few days after the film’s Amazon premiere. “I didn’t want to start filming until we found the perfect daughter for Borat,” he said. “You have to be an incredible improviser, you have to be able to stay in character for many, many hours, you have to be able to play emotionally in the reality of the scene, and you have to be hilarious.”

Bakalova’s audition process went far beyond the casting office. As Borat’s wild-child daughter, she was forced to interact with non-actors as a camera trailed her every move. “We did all these crazy things,” Bakalova said. “I drank from the toilet, I tried to eat a fish from the aquarium.”

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