Stewart gets serious about Iran film
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Stewart gets serious about Iran film

Comedian will go on hiatus from ‘The Daily Show’ to direct his first feature, about a reporter tortured in Tehran

Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." (Comedy Central screenshot)
Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." (Comedy Central screenshot)

Jon Stewart is already a pro at lampooning Iranian extremism on “The Daily Show.” Now he’ll take on the country at the movies.

The Comedy Central host announced Tuesday that he’s taking a break from the TV show to direct his first feature film, a drama about a journalist held captive by the Islamic Republic for 118 days.

BBC reporter Maziar Bahari told the real-life tale in his 2011 memoir, “Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story Of Love, Captivity And Survival.” Sent to Iran in 2009 to cover the country’s sham presidential elections, Bahari was held for nearly three months in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, all the time worrying about the pregnant fiancee he’d left back in London.

Stewart’s interest in the story is both personal and professional — an interview he conducted with Bahari on his TV show played a role in the journalist’s interrogations.

Stewart, who wrote the film’s script, has retitled the project “Rosewater,” after the scent of Bahari’s interrogator — the only identifying characteristic of the man who beat and used psychological torture on the Iranian-born journalist.

Stewart, 50, will take a three-month hiatus this summer to work on the film, his first outing as a writer and director. He routinely mocks his Hollywood acting career, which has included duds such as “Playing By Heart” and scenes that got cut from “The First Wives’ Club.”

”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,” he said. ”One of the reasons we are in this business is to challenge ourselves.”

Stewart will be temporarily replaced on “The Daily Show” by fake “news correspondent” John Oliver.

Iran, which won the Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2012 for “A Separation,” can be sensitive about Hollywood films that portray it critically. Presumably the ayatollahs won’t be happy with this one.

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