Mosul premiered on Netflix in late November to excellent reviews and really impressive viewership numbers. The thriller, which was filmed in the Middle East and shot in the Iraqi language, offered a rare chance for many of its cast members to shine. Unfortunately, some of those same cast members have experienced a wave of threats since the film was released. It got so bad for some that Marvel favorites The Russo Brothers, who have taken on more producing work, and Netflix, who distributed it, stepped in and hired security teams and experts to evaluate the threats.
All involved are still being a little guarded with how they speak about the situation, but much of the backstory was recently revealed in interviews with Deadline. Apparently there were two separate situations. The first occurred during the shoot itself in Morocco. The production was working out of Marrakesh in a “really tough part” of the city when the set was rushed, allegedly by locals who wanted to be paid. The police eventually had to come, but it all quieted down and they were able to resume shooting.
The second incident was really more of a wave and it happened after the film was released and started putting up huge streaming numbers. ISIS apparently released a 44 minute response video, and several members of the cast had threatening messages posted on their social media accounts. At least one actor’s family members were reportedly contacted, and another had his Instagram account disappear entirely. There were also WhatsApp threats reportedly traced to Turkey. Here’s what Avengers: Endgame director Anthony Russo had to say in the interview…
I will only say we’ve treated this very seriously. We knew the movie was provocative and potentially dangerous for anyone involved. We took the highest security measures we could think of and we were familiar with that process after working on the Marvel movies. This was a whole new level in terms of secrecy. We didn’t distribute scripts, we had a code name for the movie and pulled every reference of ISIS out of scripts when we did have to distribute them, so they were never explicitly mentioned as they were in the film. We had the best security people working with us but still, there was danger, but we had to be in a Middle Eastern country to make the film like we did. We were exposed and had to do as responsible as we could but everyone felt it was worth the risk.
It’s nice to know everyone involved took this situation so seriously. A security team called TigerSwan worked with the production during the actual shoot, and they were rehired after the most recent threats to make sure there were not larger issues. They reportedly went through the main cast’s social media accounts with them and altered settings, made changes and scrubbed certain posts to try and prevent the situation from escalating in the future.
There is great hope among the creators including director Matthew Michael Carnahan that the key cast members will be able to springboard from the project into work that’s a bit less intense in the future. Given how overwhelmingly positive most of the reviews have been, that's certainly possible or even likely. Regardless, all involved should be happy to know they made a great movie that touched a lot of people. They shot using Iraqi dialogue, which wasn't the easy way. They went to Morocco to make the film more authentic, which wasn't the easy way, and when they started receiving death threats, they stood behind the film, which wasn't the easy way.