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7 Lawsuits the ‘Borat’ Movies Have Gotten Sacha Baron Cohen In

Sacha Baron Cohen is back at it with Borat 2, aka Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, reprising his journalist character Borat from the original 2006 satire. The Borat sequel takes place years later and brings in some new characters (including Borat’s 15-year-old daughter, Sandra Jessica Parker Sagdiyev, played by Maria Bakalova) but the premise is still the same: trick Americans into some cringe-worthy situations and film every second of it.

Baron Cohen pulls in more unsuspecting subjects to participate in his film, and this time around, he’s got on some creative costumes to disguise his identity since Borat was such a big hit. Of course, with real-life interviews and interactions, things are bound to get a little messy — just look at how the Rudy Giuliani scene turned out. And there’s more where that one came from. As Decider’s Anna Menta points out in her Borat Subsequent Moviefilm review, there are plenty of moments in the movie only Borat could pull off, including scenes when “Borat and his daughter shock attendees of a staged cotillion” or when “They prank a pastor at an anti-abortion ‘crisis pregnancy center,‘ who doesn’t realize the ‘baby’ in Tutar’s stomach is a plastic figurine from a cupcake.”

Point is, Baron Cohen is certainly no stranger to controversy, and his bold movies have led to plenty of legal trouble over the years, since not everyone is happy to star alongside him. Borat 2 isn’t even out yet — you can catch it tomorrow, Oct. 23 on Prime Video — and the film has already been hit with a lawsuit. Here’s just a handful of the lawsuits Baron Cohen has landed in thanks to his Borat movies.

1

Kathie Martin

Kathie Martin Borat
Photo: Prime Video

The etiquette coach who tried to help Borat with his manners was not able to transform him into a gentleman in one night. And once she learned what she had really signed on for, Kathie Martin sued Baron Cohen and 20th Century Fox, claiming Borat “tricked into being part of a childish prank.” The Supreme Court in Alabama turned the lawsuit down, citing the release form Martin signed before appearing in the film.

2

Jeffrey Lemerond

Borat NYC
Photo: Everett Collection

One man who was included in Borat was so displeased he made it into the film that he took legal action. Jeffrey Lemerond, who is included in both the trailer and a 13-second clip in the film, sued 20th Century Fox for using his image illegally. In Borat, he is shown running from the camera and yelling, “Go away!” as Borat tried to hug strangers on a New York City street. A judge deemed the clip “newsworthy” and the case was later dismissed.

3

Villagers of Glod, Romania

Borat 1
Photo: Everett Collection

Borat filmed the village of Glod, Romania instead of Kazakhstan, but the villagers weren’t too pleased with their cameo. According to ABC, the villagers took legal action and asked for $83 million in damages, alleging they were only paid $70 to $100 each, or even three lei (the equivalent of $1.28 US dollars in 2004) to appear in the film.

“These people will do anything for money. Of course they were going to take part in [the film],” said the deputy mayor of the five-town region where the film was shot. “They thought they were earning money for not doing a lot of work.”

The lawsuit was thrown out in 2006, and again in 2008.

4

Justin Seay and Christopher Rotunda

Borat Frat Scene
Photo: Prime Video

Two fraternity brothers, Justin Seay and Christopher Rotunda, were shown in Borat getting drunk with Baron Cohen and making racist and derogatory remarks. After the film was released, they sued the producers for defamation, claiming that they had been told the movie would never premiere in the U.S. and that they’d been tricked into appearing. Their suit was later dismissed in 2007, and although they sought an injunction to keep the film from premiering in DVD, it was also denied.

5

Esma Redžepova

BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, Sacha Baron Coh
©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Macedonian Romani singer Esma Redžepova sued the Borat producers for €800,000, claiming that the Borat movie used her song “Chaje Šukarije,” but she never granted them permission to do so. Unlike some of the Borat lawsuits, this one wasn’t thrown out — instead, Redžepova was awarded €26,000. While she did get compensation, she got much less than what she asked for since Baron Cohen had requested permission from her production house to use the song, but she was never notified.

6

Michael Psenicska

Borat Driving Scene
Photo: Prime Video

Michael Psenicska, the driving instructor who tries to teach Borat in a very memorable scene, was not happy about his inclusion in the film. Psenicska, a high school math teacher who also ran his own driving school, sought over $100,000 in damages after the film was released. He was initially paid $500 to give Baron Cohen as Borat a driving lesson, but he thought he was taking part in a documentary “about the integration of foreign people into the American way of life.” His case was later dismissed in 2008.

7

Judith Dim Evans' Estate

Borat Sequel
Photo: Everett Collection

Although the Borat sequel isn’t even out yet, Baron Cohen’s movie has already been hit with another lawsuit. The estate of Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans is suing Borat producers and Amazon Studios to remove her appearance from the upcoming film, claiming that Evans was interviewed “under false pretenses” and that the film mocks “the Holocaust and Jewish culture.” The lawsuit was filed earlier this month with the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia.

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