Maria Bakalova is a student of world cinema. As an actress coming up in Bulgaria, she watched the films of Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg and dreamt of starring in Dogme 95-esque dramas. A chance audition instead led her to Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
Bakalova earned an Oscar nomination for her performance as said prodigious bribe, serving as her entrée to Hollywood at large. She followed Borat with the pandemic parody The Bubble and now the satirical horror movie, Bodies Bodies Bodies. In preparing for the latter, the actress studied Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Julia Ducournau's Raw, along with a deep dive into horror films from Rosemary's Baby to Scream to Midsommar.
What Bakalova is looking for in every movie and hopes to instill into her own work is "the authenticity of the roles that are portrayed," she says. "The authenticity of the story and that feeling of honesty."
"When it feels like you can relate in a certain way and you can forget about your story right now and get completely sucked into the story being shared with you, it's just the most important part," Bakalova adds. "To make you believe that that's real, no matter if it is in another universe or it is here, next door."
Below, she shares with A.frame the movies that have most influenced her approach to acting.