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Interview With Actor Roman Khikalov

Roman Khikalov, a 25-year-old Kazakh actor, plays the all-American character John in the upcoming movie "My Brother, Borat."

In the film, John visits Kazakhstan and is surprised to find the country very different from Sacha Baron Cohen's portrayal in the 2006 hit film "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

Khikalov spoke to RFE/RL's Merhat Sharipzhanov about playing the role and what he thought of the original "Borat."

RFE/RL: You play John in the film. Can you talk about what makes your character all-American?

I never thought about this deeply, to be honest. I was never really concerned with how to seem like a real, average American.

As far as I know, Americans are very simple and open people. They're very easy to communicate with, but they're a little bit strange. They're a little naive -- they believe everything. They're so simple. Those were the major factors I based my character on.

RFE/RL: Have you ever been to America?

Unfortunately no, I've never been to America. I hope I will [go there] in the near future. I have many [American] friends, but they're mainly African-Americans.

RFE/RL: Have you seen "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"? What do you think about it?

Of course I saw "Borat." I think it's amazing, the man was able to make money out of nothing, a huge amount of money. He spent almost nothing making the movie. He was a genius.

The thing is, it's amazing how he did things so foolishly on the one hand and so cleverly on the other by using somebody, something -- in this case the whole country -- for his own promotion. And it was really funny, too.

But many people here in Kazakhstan took it personally and became angry, saying, "It's not true, it's not the real Kazakhstan." I don't think that's the right attitude.

He did what he wanted, and it's good. And he became world-famous. I would do the same if I had such a great idea.

RFE/RL: What's your favorite part, so far, in "My Brother, Borat"?

There are so many funny parts. So many favorite parts.... I'm not sure if everything [we shot] will be used in the movie, I'm sure that some parts will be cut out.

But one of my favorite parts is when I lie in bed, take off a towel, and scratch my ass. I don't know if they're going to use it, but it was so funny that everyone was laughing, even the cameramen.

RFE/RL: In the original "Borat" film, a Kazakh character visits America and people who meet him trust him when he says he's a Kazakh. Is "My Brother, Borat" similar?

In many cases, people weren't even aware they were being filmed. I presented myself as if I really was an American, a stupid guy, and we used a hidden camera many times. This allowed us to show Almaty, the streets, the cars, the people -- our city is so huge.

RFE/RL: There is a scene in the film that was shot in a hospital. What's that about?

The hospital appears in the film several one instance, a character injured his bottom and they are stitching it up there. There are so many funny, stupid incidents that take place in the hospital.

I don't know if the movie will be successful, but I'm so happy that the shooting process was so much fun for everyone. We'll never forget it. Actors had full freedom, it was just great.