Before he was the host of The Daily Show, the satirical news comedy that allows him to combine a quick wit and current affairs, Jon Stewart was a comic and middling actor. Obviously he retained some dormant ambitions from those years, because Stewart is about to take eight weeks off from his award-winning television show to direct his first feature film. Rosewater is an adaptation of Maziar Bahari's book Then They Came For Me, which documents the Iranian-Canadian journalist's incarceration and torture in Iran when he was arrested while covering the country's 2009 elections. Bahari was brutally interrogated for 118 days before his release was obtained.
One of the claims made by his interrogator (who Bahari remembers smelling of rosewater) was that he must be a spy because he'd appeared on a lighthearted Daily Show segment where the program's correspondent was comically pretending to be an American spook. That came to Stewart's attention and his involvement now extends to directing the movie. As Bahari, who was 42 at the time of his arrest, Stewart has cast the impressive Gael García Bernal, who most recently starred in No and The Loneliest Planet. Bernal has long been linked to a reboot of the Zorro series, but his choices continue to be eclectic and intriguing. Hopefully Stewart's transition will pay off, although it could set a dangerous precedent: no-one needs Karl Stefanovic to direct a film.
Stewart to star for veteran, first-timer
Kristen Stewart continues to put the drawn out experience that was the Twilight series behind her. The actress, who also starred last year in On the Road and Snow White and the Huntsman, has joined the cast of the next Olivier Assayas film. The gifted French filmmaker (Summer Hours, Carlos) is making Sils Maria, a story of acting and identity set in Switzerland where an actress becomes obsessed with the young woman starring in a remake of the role that once made her famous. Juliette Binoche (Certified Copy, Cosmopolis) will play the veteran thespian, with Stewart as her assistant, while Chloe Moretz (Hugo) has the role of her successor. After that Stewart will star in first-time director Peter Sattler's Camp X-Ray, an independent drama about a young woman who joins the U.S. Army and finds herself assigned to Guantanamo Bay, where she befriends a young detainee.
Bardem gets his guns
Is Javier Bardem becoming typecast? The powerhouse Spanish actor is best known internationally for villain's roles in the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men and most recently Sam Mendes' Bond adventure Skyfall, and now he's agreed to play the murderous foe hunting Sean Penn's double-crossed assassin through Europe in The Gunman, which will be directed by Pierre Morel (Taken). Bardem will also carry a gun, possibly as the hero, in A Most Violent Year, the third film from American writer-director J.C. Chandor, who turned heads last month at Cannes with All is Lost, his nautical drama starring a lone Robert Redford. Hopefully the Bardem of The Dancer Upstairs and Mondays in the Sun isn't forgotten.