Earlier this week, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart confirmed that he is producing a film based on reporter Maziar Bahari’s non-fiction book Then They Came For Me, Bahari’s account of his own imprisonment in an Iranian prison for 118 days for being a suspected spy.
The confirmation came as Stewart was interviewing Bahari in conjunction with the release of the book. Towards the end of the interview, which you can see here, Stewart stated –
I do want to say, in the spirit of full disclosure, this is how impressed I am with this man’s story, and his courage, and this book – you and I are working together on a film about this. I have suggested, obviously, Matt Damon as you. It’s up to you, the casting will be up to you!
Stewart was obviously joking as to the casting, but Bahari quickly quipped back, “I was thinking about Will Smith.” Already thinking about box office potential, I see.
Bahari was arrested in 2009 when he arrived in Iran to cover the then-current election protests and incarcerated in the country’s notorious Evin prison. He was held for nearly three months, 107 days of which was in solitary confinement. He was also interrogated on numerous occasions by a man whom he called Rosewater, after the scent he exuded.
In addition to Stewart being impressed with Bahari’s story enough to want to make the film, there is another far weirder, Daily Show connection. Part of the “evidence” that his interrogator presented that Bahari was a spy was a clip from the satirical news show in which correspondent Jason Jones interviewed Bahari while dressed in a stereotypical spy fashion! Of course, Bahari tried to explain that Jones couldn’t be a real spy as a real spy would never have consented to have their discussion broadcast on national television!
And while it sounds absurd, there is also a serious side to Bahari’s story. When detained, Bahari’s wife was pregnant and preparing to give birth to their daughter. Bahari’s own father had been imprisoned by the Shah of Iran during the uprisings of the 1950s and his sister held by those loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s.
It should be interesting to see the resultant film.