Jon Stewart has made a movie. If there was anything else missing from the resumé of America’s preeminent political satirist it was ‘filmmaker’, but now you can scratch that one off the list too. His forthcoming directorial debut, Rosewater, is based on the 118-day incarceration of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was locked up only days after appearing on The Daily Show to discuss his coverage of Iran’s Green Revolution back in 2009.
So why are we writing about this on Remezcla? Well, because Stewart has cast our boyfriend Gael García Bernal in the starring role. Yes, an American Jew has cast a Mexican to play an Iranian-Canadian. Admittedly it’s a little convoluted, but still much better than the bad old days of classic Hollywood when white actors were often cast to play one-dimensional caricatures of ethnic minorities.
In fact, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stewart gave a very convincing justification for his decision saying, “Because I know Maziar, I felt like I was casting a person. The one thing that I was really having trouble finding was someone who was able to have that distance, who, within the horror of what was happening to them, maintained a certain light. And when Gael came in to read, it was kind of immediate.”
Indeed, the subject was very close to home for Stewart, whose show was used in Bahari’s interrogation as evidence that he was serving secretive Western interests. But the plan wasn’t always to helm the project himself, but rather to serve as an advocate in getting Bahari’s memoir to the big screen. After initially having trouble generating interest in the project, Stewart said pa’l carajo and decided to write it himself. From there, directing was a logical extension.
While reviews so far have been mixed and Stewart doesn’t seem too presumptuous about his directorial prowess, we can be sure that there will be plenty of sincerity and more than enough intelligent humor to deserve a trip to the theater (or a Netflix night, depending on how modern you are.)
Rosewater will open in U.S. theaters on November 7.