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Telluride: How 'The Daily Show' prepared Jon Stewart for his directorial debut in 'Rosewater'

The Frame's John Horn with Jon Stewart at the Telluride Film Festival.
The Frame's John Horn with Jon Stewart at the Telluride Film Festival.
Darby Maloney/KPCC

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The Frame is at the Telluride Film Festival this holiday weekend, trying to stay awake, hydrated and to keep you up-to-date with what's going on in this little Colorado town.

In our latest edition, The Frame's John Horn sat down with Jon Stewart a couple of days after the world-wide premiere of his directorial debut, Rosewater, which stars Gael García Bernal. 


The film is based on Maziar Bahari’s book, Then They Came For Me — a memoir about the Iranian-Canadian journalist's detainment in Iran following the 2009 Iran presidential election. Stewart became part of the story after The Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones interviewed Maziar and the Iranian government claimed it was proof that he was a spy. 

Interview Highlights

Stewart on how working on The Daily Show helped him when making Rosewater

“A) The show is very collaborative and B) it’s very easy not to have any preciousness over your material. Because of the speed that we have to accomplish it and the fact that sometimes in a [segment] we’re serving a different narrative than what a certain joke would be. So you learn to recognize discordant moments very quickly and discard them with no preciousness...So you learn a sense of necessary improvisation. Bringing that to this process was really important given the limitations financially, time-wise and where we were.”

What Stewart didn't want Rosewater to be: 

“Two dimensional and didactic. And a sermon on the evils of Iran and religion. I wanted it to be a universal kind of experiential feeling of the cost of oppression — to those that are being held and those that have to hold them...I do think there is very little that corrodes a country or a soul from the inside-out faster than having to oppress."

How Stewart felt during his film's premiere:

“I think the combination of altitude sickness and premiere sickness made that moment. I think you sort of imagine it in [marriage] proposal terms — It’s going to be the perfect moment and we’re going to remember it forever. But all I kept thinking was, Is everyone else here dizzy? Or is it really just me?

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