Comedian Albert Brooks is courting controversy with his new film. Like "Syriana" with George Clooney and Steven Spielberg's "Munich," Brooks' movie brings the turbulent politics of the Middle East to the big screen. "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" comes out next month. It was inspired by 9/11.
Albert Brooks: After Sept. 11, when I sort of sat down at the typewriter and started to think about what I wanted to make, subjects that might have enticed me in the year 1999 or 1998, it wasn't doing it for me. I personally had to deal with this in some way. It was just sitting there, saying, "Look at me."
Americans, I believe, are overly scared of Muslims. You know, there's over a billion Muslims in the world. And I would imagine that the majority of them don't want to do any harm to anyone, let alone us.
So, the title in itself, "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" -- comedy is a friendly word, and the title is meant to defuse this in some way.
Sony Pictures, that was going to distribute the movie, one day said, "I think the title is a little too scary for us."
And the very fact that they're worried about it is why you have to start making movies like this.
We filmed in Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in the world, which happens to be in New Delhi, and I had to sit with the imam and tell him the plot of the movie or he wouldn't have let us in there. And he started laughing.
And so, you know, that was like a diplomatic moment for a minute. I thought, "Gee, could you sign a peace treaty? How do we all do this?"
But people are, you know, they're willing to lighten up, for lack of a better term. They want to. Nobody knows how to.
You know, you're not going to change the world with a movie. That's never happened. But if you can get someone to go and just look -- well, OK -- just look a little differently, then you combine that with 100 movies, and you may have a little movement somewhere.