Jon Stewart Movie: Salary Issues Complicate Gael Garcia Bernal Casting

Jon Stewart Headshot - P 2013
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Jon Stewart Headshot - P 2013

The 34-year-old Mexican actor wants more money for the Scott Rudin-produced "Rosewater," which sports a $10 million budget.

This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

On June 6, Jon Stewart big adieu to his Daily Show audience, joking that he was "going to shoot a little movie." Although the first-time director isn't tackling a Marvel superhero, his film Rosewater won't be shot on a shoestring budget either.

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Sources say the OddLott-produced and -financed movie about an Iran-born journalist held in solitary confinement in a Tehran prison for three months will cost about $10 million, still well below the $44.5 million spent on the Iran-set Argo.

"The scope and approach of this film is entirely different," says an insider. "You had big names in Argo with big paychecks, like Alan Arkin and John Goodman in supporting roles. [Rosewater] isn't about celebrity casting."

That's not to say the filmmakers, which include OddLot's Gigi Pritzker and Scott Rudin, are hewing strictly to authenticity to cast the two leads: the detained reporter, Maziar Bahari, and his Iranian interrogator, nicknamed Rosewater. Both men were in their 40s during the 2009 events chronicled in Bahari's memoir Then They Came for Me, on which the film is based, but producers have made an offer to 34-year-old Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal to play Bahari.

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A deal remains uncertain at press time, with Bernal demanding a much bigger payday than what's being offered. The filmmakers seek to save on casting in order to fund location shooting, the movie's biggest expense. Although Rosewater mostly will take place in interior settings, the film will shoot entirely in Jordan beginning in mid-July.

As Stewart signed off, he told his audience, "I just hope dearly that I don't screw it up." The casting decisions he makes during the next week or two could be a determining factor.

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