'Innocence of Muslims' Actress: Director 'Will Stand Before God for What He Has Done' (Q&A)
In an interview with THR, Cindy Lee Garcia talks about the film she thought she was shooting, the fallout from the controversy and how "Master George" became Muhammad.
In the infamous Innocence of Muslims, a 14-minute YouTube video (see below) that has sparked riots and killing in the Middle East, actress Cindy Lee Garcia plays the mother of a 12-year-old girl who is to marry the Prophet Muhammad. At the nine-minute mark in the video, she is speaking to her husband and utters the lines: “Is your Muhammad a child molester? Our daughter is but a child, and he’s 55 years old.” The husband responds: “He is 53, not 55.” Garcia, though, says she never said the word “Muhammad” while shooting the video. She spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her experience with the film, which was shot under the title, Desert Warrior.
The Hollywood Reporter: What’s the fallout been for you?
Cindy Lee Garcia: I lost my job babysitting my baby grandchildren. It was my only source of income. And my relationship with them is compromised because they’re afraid to be around me due to any possible retaliation from any source.
THR: Who hired you for your role in the film?
Garcia: Sam Bacile. I got the casting call, I went, and there were a lot of big names there. I can’t say the names because they turned away from him at some point.
THR: These big names were actors?
Garcia: Producers and directors.
THR: Who directed Innocence of Muslims?
Garcia: It’s not up to me to tell you. I can tell you who the writer is. He’s the man they call Sam Bacile. He’s the culprit. But the other people started out innocent and bailed on him.
THR: So the director of this film is someone I would know of?
Garcia: Sure you would.
THR: What are his credits?
Garcia: I’m not going to go there. There were three of them, a first AD and second AD and another man who is very well known. Why they were all there, I don’t know, but I’m not at liberty to say their names. At one point, Sam wanted me to say my daughter was 7 and the director said: ‘We’re not going to do that. We’ll say, ‘She is but a child.’ " The actress who played my daughter was actually 20.
THR: And they made her look like a 7-year-old?
Garcia: They made her look about 10.
THR: And that’s the scene where your character insults Muhammad?
Garcia: The actors were deceived. My voice was dubbed, and it wasn’t even my voice. I had no idea he did that until the trailer came out. My only part was the role of a mother talking to her husband, her daughter and this man named Master George. I have the full script of what I said. They were saying, "Praise God, praise God," because my daughter was going to be given in marriage to this man called Master George by my husband, so I mocked him for worshipping this man. They dubbed "Master George" to say ‘Muhammad."
THR: Did they dub anything else you said?
Garcia: The only part of me that’s on there – I can’t even remember what’s on that stupid thing. I can’t even watch it. It repulses me.
THR: When did you last speak to Sam Bacile?
Garcia: I called him the morning that all this violence broke out in Libya and asked him, "Why did you do this?" He said, "Cindy, tell the world that you’re innocent." He said to say that he’s the writer and he did it because he’s tired of radical Muslims attacking innocent people and that he was from Israel. But when I was down there doing the movie, he said he was from Egypt.
THR: Where did you film your scenes?
Garcia: In Duarte on Hamilton Street in a church that had a greenscreen room. They had the costumes and a makeup and camera crew. It was all very innocent. My God, they were even playing The Passion of the Christ on the screen.
THR: How long is the full movie?
Garcia: He said it was going to be two hours but that it wasn’t finished yet. The only part I ever saw was the trailer, and the trailer didn’t make sense to me at all. There was quite a bit more film, like me on a swing, but I didn’t see any of that in there. There was another scene where Master George is carrying my daughter away from me and I was totally caught up in the role and they said it was a take, then this crazy man jumps into my space, and he says, "That was great!" The next day the man came over and asked, "Do you know who I am?" And when he told me his name, I almost fainted because he’s very well known as a director and a writer, and he said he wanted all my information because I’m a good actress.
THR: Are you sure he was who he claimed to be? Did you recognize him?
Garcia: I had never seen him before, but he looked like his father.
THR: Who is his father?
Garcia: He’s dead now. He was an actor.
THR: And you won’t say his name?
Garcia: I want to continue being an actress. The people on that set were duped. We’re innocent. I really believe that, because they were very concerned about some of the lines Sam Bacile wanted the actors to say.
THR: What did you think the movie was going to be about when you took the role?
Garcia: When I went in for the casting call they told me it was an action film taking place 2,000 years ago in the desert. There were soldiers, fighting, and Master George who had a wife who betrayed him and they killed her. All that took place. I saw it. But there was no mention of Muhammad -- just this Master George who was the big cheese.
THR: Are you suing somebody over this?
Garcia: I probably am suing Sam Bacile. I have an attorney helping me.
THR: Who is your attorney?
Garcia: She’s out of L.A. and she helps actors. She actually pursued me.
THR: Can I talk to her?
Garcia: I’ll ask her to call you. I’m not trying to be evasive, I just want to be able to come back to Hollywood and work.
THR: Considering what’s going on the Middle East, are you fearful for your life?
Garcia: I believe in God and have a relationship with Jesus Christ, so I’m not afraid of anything. I’m concerned for my family and my husband, who I love very much. I can’t be around my family right now because of their fears.
THR: You mentioned Christianity a few times. Was this a Christian production?
Garcia: No, it wasn’t. He just found a church with a greenscreen. A lot of churches rent space to raise money.
THR: How many e-mails and phone messages from the press have you received?
Garcia: At least 300.
THR: Is the movie to blame for the riots and killings?
Garcia: It pushed a lot of buttons, and that was intentional, but I don’t know if he meant for the ambassador to be killed. He has a price to pay, this Mr. Bacile -- maybe not here on Earth, but he’ll stand before God one day for what he has done.
THR: How much did they pay you?
Garcia: $500 for 2 1/2 days of shooting and two hours of editing one day and another hour of editing later.
THR: Tell me about meeting Sam Bacile.
Garcia: It’s not his real name. I can’t pronounce his real name. He told me he was from Egypt when I first met him, and he told me this movie would be seen in Egypt first. Time went by and he contacted me again to re-edit my voice louder, and there were different men there. I asked him where the first AD and second AD were, and he said they bailed on him. He wouldn’t give me a reason why, except that they didn’t agree with what he was doing.
THR: Why are you speaking out while most others involved with this movie are not?
Garcia: I feel really bad for the innocent people who died. I was on national television offering my condolences and pleading with the Muslims to please stop attacking innocent people. It wasn't our fault or the fault of the people over there that they killed. It was one man, Sam Bacile, who instigated this whole thing.
THR: I’m told the FBI is investigating Bacile. Has law enforcement contacted you?
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