Jeanise Jones, the woman who plays Tutar’s babysitter in Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, has said she feels “betrayed” after filmmakers didn’t tell her it was a satirical production.
The 62-year-old said she was led to believe she was participating in a real documentary about a teen being groomed to marry a rich man — and prayed for her until the trailer came out.
“I’m feeling like she’s from the Third World and that kind of stuff does happen where they sell women. I’m thinking this is for real so I felt kind of betrayed by it,” she told The New York Post.
The new movie sees Cohen revive his bumbling Kazakh journalist character Borat Sagdiye, who returns to America to marry off his teen daughter Tutar, played by 24-year-old Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova.
Jones was recruited to watch Tutar – who she believed was 14 or 15 years old – after the film’s production team approached her church looking for a “sassy” Black grandmother in her ’70s to participate in a documentary.
“They told me it was a documentary for this young lady to understand she has rights and she can do whatever a man can do,” said Jones, who in the film is seen assuring Tutar that she doesn’t need plastic surgery to get married.
“I felt pain for her and tried [to see] if there’s any way we can get through to her that she doesn’t need to do all that,” Jones added.
According to Jones, she was paid around $3,600 for her participation in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. She filmed some of her scenes in Oklahoma, then was flown out to Washington state months later to film another.
She explained that was told that the film would premiere overseas in November, but after filming wrapped, she was worried about Tutar and asked other members of her church to help pray for her.
“We were concerned,” Jones said. “We were up there praying for her and asking God to help her and we were doing what we thought was the Christian thing to do.”
Jones only learned that things weren’t as they were presented to her when her cousin showed her the trailer for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm last week.
“I was just kind of shocked and that it was that kind of movie,” Jones said, adding that she wished producers came clean earlier.
Jones’ church pastor, Derrick Scobey, thinks Cohen owes Jones an apology after not coming clean. He also thinks she deserves more compensation for her role, especially since she was laid off from her job as an insurance claims auditor.
“I would love to see him, if nothing else, on a Zoom call in a very lighthearted manner, ‘We’re sorry we pulled one over on you’,” Scobey said.
In the meantime, the pastor has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Jones, whom he calls the “moral compass” of the film – you can donate here.
The estate of Judith Dim Evans was protesting the use of an interview recorded between creator Sacha Baron Cohen and Evans, which discussed her experience in the Holocaust, saying that Evans didn’t know she was appearing in a satire.