Talk about your out of this world experiences. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, breakout Borat star Maria Bakalova made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut official, joining director James Gunn and the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 onstage in Hall H as they unveiled the first trailer for their trilogy-capping space adventure. “The reason I became a fan of the MCU is because of Guardians of the Galaxy,” the Oscar-nominated Bulgarian actress raves to Yahoo Entertainment a week after storming the Comic-Con stage. “It has humor, it his heart and it has moments when you can really cry. Being able to join the last installment of his franchise has been the biggest gift.”
Bakalova’s exact role in the film is a secret that she’s been keeping since GOTG went into production in late 2021. But at last the truth can be told: she’s the voice of Cosmo the Spacedog, a Soviet Space Program-era test animal who has been bouncing around the galaxy since the ’60s (and who was briefly spotted in the first Guardians film). Bakalova joins an ever-evolving menagerie of digitally created space critters that includes a duck named Howard (voiced by Seth Green), a tree named Groot (Vin Diesel) and, of course, a raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper).
Cooper and Diesel famously aren’t on set while the Guardians films are shot, generally recording their lines after the fact. (Instead, Gunn’s brother Sean doubles as the on-set stand-in for Rocket in addition to his recurring role as the Ravager-turned-Guardian Kraglin.) But Bakalova reveals that she couldn’t pass up the chance to spend some quality IRL time with the film’s flesh-and-blood cast. “I couldn’t resist not going to set,” she says. “I’ve been a fan of the universe, and I wanted to see how it works.”
The humor and heart that Bakalova loves about the Guardians series was certainly on display in the first trailer that Gunn screened for the SDCC crowd. Due to unfinished special effects, it has yet to premiere online, but star Chris Pratt promised that it will still give fans all the feels when it does finally drop. “Don’t do any emotional preparation, just go see it, and you’ll see why people were moved,” the actor teased in interviews that followed the star-studded Marvel Studios panel.
Watching Gunn work on set gave Bakalova special insight into why the Guardians films have such a hold over audiences. “He’s one of those people that know how to create a family, not just a team,” she explains. “The people in the film share the same love as the audience. At the end of the day, we’re making these movies to make the people that are going to watch them feel something. It was fascinating to be able to see what was behind the curtain.”
Naturally, Bakalova declines to say too much about Cosmo’s role in the events of the grand Guardians finale, lest she wind up in the Collector’s treasure trove of galactic artifacts. But she does call the experience of voicing the long-lost spacedog an “interesting” acting challenge. “I sometimes forget that imagination exists, and Marvel movies help us remember that because it’s all about your imagination. I’m lucky to be portraying this beautiful character that’s going to share in the unconditional love the rest of them do.”
Bakalova found a different sort of family on the set of the new horror film, Bodies Bodies Bodies, the latest buzzy genre movie from A24 — the studio behind cult favorites like Midsommar and Men. Directed by Halina Reijn, the movie stars Bakalova and Amandla Stenberg as Bee and Sophie, a new couple who arrive for a group hang with Sophie’s wealthy friends at a remote country mansion. With a hurricane closing in, the pals decide to pass the time with an after-dark party game that takes a turn for the deadly. As the…