For Jon Stewart, last night’s screening of his directorial debut, Rosewater, was a glorious homecoming of sorts. After all, he filmed Death to Smoochy in Toronto. But last night’s standing-room-only showing at the Toronto Film Festival was a true celebration, and before the screening, Stewart joked that Canada’s earnest warm reception felt like sarcasm to a cynical New Yorker like himself. Afterwards, the audience responded with a standing ovation, as much for the real Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was imprisoned and accused of being a spy by Iranian authorities, as the cast and their first-time director.
The Daily Show host took three months off from his day job last summer to direct Bahari’s story, which had strangely pulled Stewart into its orbit because the Iranians used footage of Bahari’s appearance on The Daily Show as serious evidence of his espionage activities. Of course, the Iranians now also accuse Stewart of being a “CIA Zionist spy,” adding another surreal layer to the ridiculousness. The movie, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Bahari and Danish actor Kim Bodnia as his impatient Iranian interrogator, might seem like an unlikely debut for a comedian, but anyone who knows Stewart’s passion for politics, media, and how the two often mix to create a theater for the absurd, will recognize his fingerprints on the cinematic adaptation of Bahari’s memoir.
Hours after the Toronto debut, Stewart spoke to EW about his unlikely route to directing a film in Jordan and the things he would do over again if he could. (Hint: not much.) READ FULL STORY