The 80 cast and crew members employed by the makers of the movie that has provoked the Islamic world said told CNN on Wednesday that they were “grossly misled” about the film’s intent and expressed regrets over the violence the movie has been causing.
“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” they said in a statement to CNN about the movie, “Innocence of Muslims.”
“We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose,” continued the statement to CNN. “We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.”
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya by a terrorist team taking advantage of the local outrage over the film, which ridicules the prophet Muhammad.
A casting call published in July 2011 in Backstage magazine and in other publications listed the movie title as “Desert Warrior,” and presented it as an “historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”
An actress in the film who asked not to be identified said the original script did not include a character named Prophet Muhammad.
The actress said she spoke on Wednesday with the producer, who is identified in the advertisement as Sam Bassiel. “He said he wrote the script because he wants the Muslims to quit killing,” she said. “I had no idea he was doing all this.”
The AP has since verified the man’s identity as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, age 55, a Coptic Christian.
“I would never be involved in a film to ever hurt or bring harm to anybody,” the bactress told CNN. “This makes me sick to my stomach to think that I was involved in that movie that brought death to somebody else.”
According to the actress, the character of Muhammad was named George during the shooting.
A member of the production staff who worked directly on the film and has a copy of the original script told CNN it does not mention Muhammad or Islam.
The Wall Street Journal identified the filmmaker as Sam Bacile, an Israeli-American real estate developer. The Journal reported that, in its telephone interview with Bacile, he characterized his film as “a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam.”
“Islam is a cancer,” he told the newspaper. “The movie is a political movie. It’s not a religious movie.”
“This guy is totally anonymous. At this point no one can confirm he holds an Israeli citizenship and even if he did we are not involved,” ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. “No Israeli institution, government department or office has any involvement in this. This guy acted on his own behalf.”
Consultant Steve Klein told CNN he worked with Bacile on the movie and said the filmmaker had gone into hiding.
James Horn, a friend who has worked with Mr. Klein in anti-Muslim activities for several years, told the NY Times that he believed Mr. Klein was involved in providing technical assistance to the film and advice on the script. Mr. Horn said he called Mr. Klein on Wednesday. “I said, ‘Steve, did you do this?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ ”
“He’s very depressed, and he’s upset,” Klein told CNN on Wednesday regarding Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. “I talked to him this morning, and he said that he was very concerned for what happened to the ambassador.”
Klein said it was not the film’s fault that protests had turned bloody.
An online trailer for the film depicts Muslims very much the way Nazi propaganda movies depicted Jews and their plot to “conquer the world.”
Muhammad is shown as a womanizer, child molester and bloodied killer.
The movie, which was posted in July on YouTube, got more notice after Egyptian television aired segments and anti-Islam activists, including Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Morris Sadek, promoted it online.
Florida Qoran burning pastor Terry Jones said he had been contacted to help distribute the film.
“The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about Muhammad that are possibly not widely known,” Jones told CNN.
“It is very clear that God did not influence him (Muhammad) in the writings of the Qoran,” said Jones, who blames Muslims’ thin skins, rather than the film, for the riots and murders.