We’re all very sad that Jon Stewart is taking a hiatus from The Daily Show. But we’re also all very excited that he will be making his directorial debut during that time! So, you win some and you lose some. Here’s some more winning, though: Stewart has cast Gael Garcia Bernal as the lead in his upcoming film, which is titled Rosewater.
Bernal will play Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who traveled to Iran to cover the presidential elections, was accused of being a spy and wound up in a notorious Iranian prison, where he spent 118 days being interrogated by a man who smelled of rosewater (hence the title). He was later tried in absentia in Iran, and sentenced to 13 years in prison, meaning that he will never be able to return to the country until the end of the Islamic Republic. He’s since launched a campaign to liberate other journalists imprisoned in Iran. Rosewater is based on Bahari’s book Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival.
It’s a unique move to cast a Mexican actor to play an Iranian-Canadian and in some ways it might have been more powerful to actually cast an Iranian, given the politicized nature of the story. But somehow it is difficult for me to argue against casting Bernal in anything. I have no doubt he’ll be great as Bahari.
Bernal has been working a lot right now – it was only just recently announced that he’s attached to Pablo Aguero’s untitled film about the aftermath of Eva Peron’s death. He can also be seen in Pablo Larrain’s No, about events surrounding the fall of Chilean dictator Auguste Pinochet. Now he’s adding one more politically charged story to his filmography.
Rosewater is an interesting and challenging choice for a fledgling director, but I’ve got to say that I think Stewart has what it takes.