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Part of the fun of watching Jon Stewart make the rounds to promote his feature directorial debut Rosewater is hearing the Daily Show host riff on everything from politics to parenting, not to mention thoughtfully explaining some of the larger ideas behind his film.
In the past week or so, Stewart has appeared on everything from Charlie Rose to The Late Show With David Letterman to The O’Reilly Factor. Most of the interviews were pretty standard, with Stewart explaining how he became friends with journalist Maziar Bahari and ended up directing the true story of Bahari’s Iran imprisonment and later commenting on various political issues or news stories that the host wanted his views on, but there were a few moments that stood out as especially funny or insightful, and sometimes both.
Check out four of Stewart’s best bits from his TV appearances to promote Rosewater.
“When you get someone arrested, you should make a film about them”: Stewart was repeatedly asked about the connection between Bahari’s appearance on The Daily Show and his arrest as well as how much he was inspired to make the film by his show’s role in Bahari’s arrest. He typically answered by explaining that Bahari wasn’t arrested simply because he appeared on The Daily Show, so he doesn’t feel responsible (or guilty) for what happened to him. Furthermore, he didn’t intend to make Bahari’s book into a movie and writing Rosewater partly came about because he couldn’t find another writer to do that, something he also explained to The Hollywood Reporter in the magazine’s August cover story. But appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman, Stewart took a different approach. “I always feel like when you get someone arrested, you should do the best you can to make a film about them,” he joked. “That’s always been my mantra: If I get you arrested, you get a film. You get a film!”
The comedian was in fine form on the CBS late-night show, also joking about walking through Egypt to appear on Bassem Yousef‘s show and recalling a production mishap while filming that led a previously silent crew member to quip, “Nice going, Spielberg.”
Getting directors who appeared on The Daily Show to read his script: Stewart, Bahari and Gael Garcia Bernal sat down for an hour-long chat about the film with Charlie Rose on his eponymous PBS program, discussing both how the movie came to be and some of the larger ideas behind it, with Bahari also talking about his experience in solitary confinement. Rose asked Stewart about getting advice from other directors, and the comedian said it helped that he hosts a nightly talk show on which well-known directors often appear as guests. “We would have a director on to talk about a project,” he explained. “And I would find my way back to the green room and say, ‘Hey, Ron Howard, so good to have you on the show. I’ve got this script,’ ” (Mimes pulling a script out of his coat pocket.) … Some of that was to get their sense of the viability of it. It wasn’t so much (affects a grizzled director voice) ‘Your Act 1, ya need conflict,’ it was more, ‘This is a viable story. This is something I think you can accomplish in the time frame and with the money,’ we had very little money and very little time. … So, ‘Was this a realistic endeavor?’ [is more of what I was asking].” He then joked about who said yes and who said, “I’m awfully busy, please get out of my room.”
How his film offers a more nuanced portrait of Iran: Stewart and Bahari sat down with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to discuss the film, the real life events in Iran surrounding Bahari’s arrest, the arrest of other journalists and the state of Iran-U.S. relations. Here, Stewart revealed that he hopes his film offers a more nuanced view of life in the Middle Eastern country. He also made an amusing, literal- and concession-minded joke about what he hopes people get out of the film.
How raising kids is like running a small business or being Chuck Berry’s manager: On CBS Sunday Morning, Stewart reunited with Daily Show alum Mo Rocca to talk about his film, family and career. At one point, he discussed how being a parent involves a lot of management and logistical challenges, saying it’s like “running a small business where you’re trying to keep elves alive.” He also compared it to “what it must’ve been like to be, like Chuck Berry‘s manager,” acting out what he meant.
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