Journey to Mecca: The Highwayman
The other main character, the Highwayman, is a composite of a variety of people Ibn Battuta would have encountered on his travels. For literary purposes, he has been bundled into one person.
When Moroccan-born actor Hassam Ghancy first read the draft script, he felt it was just another job. But when he thought about it, he realized that the script had been written to show the world about an amazing traveler and also gave insight into what Islam is about. The Paris-based Muslim actor says, "In this story there's a small story, which is a human story between two totally different guys who discover they have something in common. In some way Battuta and the Highwayman are the same. The Highwayman is intrigued by Battuta and what the power of faith gives him. The Highwayman's power is his courage. When I play a character like this I have to go inside and find the tough and bad part of me and look at the world from this point of view."
"The decision to hire Hassam was immediate and universal by the casting team. He came in and auditioned for the Highwayman in Paris. That was a no-brainer," says Neibaur. "When you get to know Hassam, he really is that Highwayman. He's very intelligent and has tremendous screen presence. His disarming smile and the ability to be both skeptical and sincere, and to go through a change is a great contrast both in appearance and personality to Chems. So the combination really worked." Chems and Hassam became friends both in the film's story and in real life.