In his first public comments since his incarceration soon after the video gained international attention in September, Mr. Nakoula told The New York Times that he would go to great lengths to convey what he called “the actual truth” about Muhammad. “I thought, before I wrote this script,” he said, “that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in.”…

A few years ago, Mr. Nakoula told some of the crew members he had gathered, supposedly to make “Desert Warriors,” that the project would have to be put off. He had cancer. Treatment was needed, far away, and they would not be able to reach him. His family shared a similar story with church officials…

But Mr. Nakoula, who described himself to some cast members as the writer and producer, explained to a confidant that his plan was to fool actors into thinking they were making a movie built around an ancient tribal villain named George, dubbing in the name “Muhammad” later whenever anybody said “George.”