Jon Stewart takes time off to direct “Rosewater”

March 6, 2013

Jon Stewart is a best-selling author and host of The Daily Show, but now he’s expanding his career in a different direction.  He recently announced he’ll be writing and directing a feature length film, and it’s not a comedy.

On Tuesday, Stewart told reporters he’ll be taking a twelve-week hiatus from his hit TV series The Daily Show this summer to work on the movie Rosewater, a fact based drama adapted from the book “Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival” by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy. Shooting is scheduled to start in June.  Why made Stewart passionate about this project?

Well, Stewart was drawn to the story because he has a personal connection to the material. “Then They Came For Me” tells the true story of how Bahari, a Canadian-Iranian writer and filmmaker, found himself accused of attempting to overthrow the Iranian government, with Bahari’s appearance in a satiric 2009 Daily Show sketch used as evidence.

“You can imagine how upset we were,” Stewart said, “and I struck up a friendship with him afterwards.”

After reading Bahari’s book, Stewart felt the story had possibilities as a film, and began writing a screenplay, later turning to producer Scott Rudin for advice. Rudin, whose credits include The Social Network, No Country For Old Men, and There Will Be Blood, was impressed with Stewart’s ideas for the film, and after coaching him through the writing process, agreed to produce the project in tandem with Gigi Pritzker of Odd Lot Entertainment.

On his new role, Stewart said, “I am a television person who is accustomed to having a thought at 10 a.m. and having it out there at 6:30 p.m. and moving on, so this is a little scary, yes. But one of the reasons we are in this business is to challenge ourselves, and I really connected to Maziar’s story. It’s a personal story but one with universal appeal about what it means to be free.”

While Stewart said the film is not a comedy, he also stressed that it will not be as dark as a quick summary would suggest. “One of the things that appealed to me about the story is that it does have lighter moments.” Stewart said. “One of the things that kept Maziar alive was his ability to keep his sense of humor – to remember about joy and laughter – and see the absurdity of his situation.”

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