So far, we’ve gotten most of what we know about the production of the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims from the disenfranchised cast and crew who worked on it without any prior knowledge that the film would end up being anti-Muslim propaganda. Comic book veteran and writer Neil Gaiman has shared more details regarding the film’s production, and has become an unexpected source of knowledge on the subject.
The Sandman author and lauded writer is actually a friend of Anna Gurji, an actress that appeared in Innocence of Muslims. She, along with the rest of the cast and crew, have been fighting criticism for their involvement despite their claims that they were unaware of the film’s true purpose (a claim seemingly corroborated by the film itself, which appears to be re-dubbed). On his blog, Gaiman defends Gurji and details their friendship, standing in as something of a character witness for her.
“I told her to write her story for me, to say what she wanted, and I would put it up here for her, as she wrote it, to get her message to the world,” Gaiman said, adding, “The best weapon against lies is the truth, after all.”
Gurji shares many details that we already know. The film was originally called Desert Warrior and contained no references to Muhammad or Islam in the script (nor was it ever brought up on the set). Scripts were incomplete, and the film was re-dubbed after it was shot. Gurji said, “Two hours after I found out everything that had happened I gave Inside Edition an interview, the duration of which I could not stop crying,” continuing, “I felt shattered.”
“It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all. It’s painful to see people being offended with the movie that used our faces to deliver lines (it’s obvious the movie was dubbed) that we were never informed of, it is painful to see people getting killed for this same movie, it is painful to hear people blame us when we did nothing but perform our art in the fictional adventure movie that was about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it, it’s painful to be thought to be someone else when you are a completely different person.”
“Like I explained to Inside Edition, I feel awful.. I did not do anything but I feel awful,” she says.
A scared actress who’d been in the film that’s caused all the recent problems just wrote to me. I put up her letter at bit.ly/PrMY8E
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) September 17, 2012
ComicsAlliance notes that Gaiman’s hosting of Gurji’s letter is unusual, as Gaiman has no known ties to neither the film nor the Muslim community. Still, the writer has always been an advocate for free speech and creative expression, and his defense of Gurji adds a respected voice to the side of the film’s cast and crew, who are being scrutinized and victimized as well.