Jon Stewart to take a three-month hiatus from "The Daily Show" to direct his first film

John Oliver will fill in for the Comedy Central host this summer

Published March 5, 2013 8:02PM (EST)

"Daily Show" fans will be shocked to hear that veteran host Jon Stewart will be taking a three-month hiatus from the show come this summer to direct a movie -- and it's not a comedy. Deadline is reporting that Stewart will take 12 weeks off to direct "Rosewater," a film for which he already wrote the screenplay, adapted from the 2011 memoir "Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival." The drama marks Stewart's first foray into directing.

"Then They Came For Me" is BBC journalist Maziar Bahari's harrowing account of what was supposed to be a week-long trip to cover Iran’s presidential elections. Instead, Bahari's visit extended to 118 days, during which time he was trapped in an Iranian prison, interrogated by a man he could only identify by the smell of rosewater.

Stewart has a personal connection to the film: Bahari had performed in a "Daily Show" sketch several years ago, which Iranian authorities used as footage against him, accusing him of "plotting to stage a revolution against the government," according to the New York Times

“You can imagine how upset we were,” Stewart told the Times over telephone, “and I struck up a friendship with him afterwards.”

Stewart then read Bahari's book, and although he did not plan to adapt it into a screenplay, he started thinking about the story in film. Then, “it just kind of happened,” he said of his screenplay draft.

“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," Stewart admits of the move to director. “But one of the reasons we are in this business is to challenge ourselves,” he continued, “and I really connected to Maziar’s story. It’s a personal story but one with universal appeal about what it means to be free.”

And, though not a comedy, the film will have "lighter moments," according to the satirist. “One of the things that kept Maziar alive was his ability to keep his sense of humor – to remember about joy and laughter – and see the absurdity of his situation.”

"Daily Show" correspondent John Oliver will act as guest host during the break.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Comedy Film John Oliver Jon Stewart Rosewater The Daily Show