Borat had us all fooled, even some of his castmates.
A couple of the fictional Kazakh journalist’s victims have stepped forward over the last few days. Perhaps none felt more hoodwinked than Jeanise Jones, the 62-year-old grandmother who played the unwitting “babysitter” in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
“Yes it was me in the Borat movie,” Jones wrote on Facebook. “I was recruited to be in a ‘Documentary’. At ABSOLUTELY NO time did I know this was a satirical comedy movie and that I was being ‘setup’ so to speak.”
The New York Post reported Monday that Jones said in an interview that she felt “betrayed” by the film, but Jones disputes that.
“’Betrayed’ never came out of my mouth. I don’t know where they got that from,” Jones told Variety in a story published Wednesday. “I’m not ever going to say I was betrayed because it was partially my fault I didn’t read the contracts. I’ll take my responsibility on that.”
The reporter of the New York Post story did not respond to a request for comment.
Jones, a mother of three and grandmother to six, first posted about the “Borat” movie on Facebook Oct. 25, two days after its release. Cohen insisted on getting the film on Amazon Prime Video before the Nov. 3 election, he told the New York Times.
“We wanted it to be a reminder to women of who they’re voting for — or who they’re not voting for,” Cohen said. “If you’re a woman and you don’t vote against this guy, then know what you’re doing for your gender.”
Jones’ “babysitter” story line portrayed “women’s issues” to a T. Or at least she thought they did. In the sequel, which arrived 14 years after the original “Borat” film, the titular character leaves his daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova), with Jones. She was told the teenager was being groomed to be Mike Pence’s mistress.
Bakalova, whom Cohen is pitching for an Oscar nomination, went full method, it seems. The Bulgarian actress, 24, was with Jones at a house the crew was using for more than an hour, she said.
“The people in that house had a goldfish tank and she wanted to eat one. She was good,” Jones told Showbiz411. “She said women in her country didn’t sit in cars, didn’t go to school or have jobs. She was also wearing horse blinders, she said, to keep her focused. I finally convinced her to take those off.”
Jones, who was recruited for the movie at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was paid $600 for that scene, she said. She told Showbiz411 that she was later paid an additional $3,000 for a second scene. Borat returned to ask her if she would be his “Black American wife.” “No, I will not,” Jones answered.
The comments on her Facebook page, however, have been supportive.
“Borat tends to bring out the worst in people but you are one of those people that restores my faith in humanity,” wrote one fan. “I hope you can move forward with a smile, because you made so so many people smile for the best reasons and laugh for the worst.”
Jones, of course, was not the only unsuspecting victim of Baron Cohen’s pranks. Rudy Giuliani has come under fire for his scene with Bakalova, in which she posed as a conservative journalist.
When their hotel-suite interview moved into a bedroom, Giuliani, 76, was filmed tucking his hand into his pants. He says he was removing recording equipment from the interview and has called the film “a hit job.”
The sequel also included a powerful scene with Judith Dim Evans, a Holocaust survivor who died after filming ended. It appears that, for the first time, Baron Cohen intentionally leaked his “Borat” identity, letting Evans know that the scene was intended to educate people about the Holocaust.
Evans’ estate, however, run by her daughter Michelle Dim St. Pierre, filed a lawsuit on her behalf earlier this month.
The lawsuit, which has been dismissed, contended that: “Upon learning after giving the interview that the movie was actually a comedy intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture, Ms. Evans was horrified and upset. Had Ms. Evans been informed about the true nature of the film and purpose for the interview, she would not have agreed to participate in the interview.”
Attorney Russell Smith, who represented Amazon in the case, pointed to Baron Cohen’s Judaism and extensive work with the Anti-Defamation League. (Baron Cohen’s Borat speaks a mix of Hebrew and Polish as a stand-in for the Kazakh language in the film.)
“Sacha Baron Cohen was deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with Judith Dim Evans, whose compassion and courage as a Holocaust survivor has touched the hearts of millions of people who have seen the film,” Smith said in a statement.
“Judith’s life is a powerful rebuke to those who deny the Holocaust, and with this film and his activism, Sacha Baron Cohen will continue his advocacy to combat Holocaust denial around the world.”
2:34 PM, Oct. 28, 2020: This story and its headline have been updated with Jeanise Jones’ comments Wednesday to Variety that she did not feel “betrayed.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.