A California actress in the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked violent outrage in the Middle East after clips and a trailer were posted online, has sued the film’s controversial producer and YouTube, claiming fraud, slander and overall emotional distress.
Cindy Lee Garcia, who has told multiple outlets that she and her family have received death threats over the film, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday against the movie’s murky producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as Sam Bacile, YouTube, its owner Google and 200 unnamed defendants, according to court documents obtained by EW.com.
In the lawsuit, Garcia said she first responded to a casting call in July 2011 for a movie titled Desert Warrior, which was represented to be a “historical Arabian Desert adventure film,” and that she was cast in the movie. The movie’s producers, including Nakoula, “intentially concealed the purpose and content of the film,” alleges Garcia.
While the film clips and trailer on YouTube reference and represent the Muslim prophet Muhammad in various offensive ways — as a killer and a pedophile — Garcia says there was no mention of Muhammad during filming or on the set, and no references made to religion or sexual content. “Mr. Bacile represented to her that the Film was indeed an adventure film and about ancient Egyptians,” according to the lawsuit. “Based on those specific representations made and the script and the manner in which the Film was shot, she agreed to deliver an acting performance for Desert Warriors.”
But Garcia claims she was completely duped when Bacile, aka Nakoula, published the video as Innocence of Muslims to YouTube on July 2, 2012, with her acting work “changed grotesquely” to make it appear that she “voluntarily performed in a hateful anti-Islamic production,” according to court documents, and that the film is “vile and reprehensible.” She alleges that Nakoula published the film in September with her voice and the voices of other castmates dubbed into Arabic, on YouTube, setting off numerous bloody protests in countries including Libya.
According to the lawsuit, she has “suffered severe emotional distress, the destruction of her career and reputation” and home life. Garcia has said that her family, fearing for their own safety, told her she cannot see her grandchildren, that she was fired from her job as a result of the film, and that she’s received credible death threats. In the court docs, Garcia claims she requested Google to remove the film from YouTube, and that YouTube informed her in writing that it has declined to remove the content.
Garcia is asking for general damages according to proof at a jury trial. “We are reviewing the complaint and will be in court tomorrow,” a spokesperson for YouTube told EW.
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