Jon Stewart has gone on hiatus from The Daily Show to make his low-budget drama Rosewater, but the production is already running into problems. We previously reported that Gael Garcia Bernal was in talks to lead the picture, which is based on BBC journalist Maziar Bahari’s 118-day captivity in Iran’s most notorious prison after leaving London in June of 2009 to cover the country’s presidential elections. The title is derived from the fact that Bahari knew only one thing about his brutal interrogator: he smelled of Rosewater. Today, THR is reporting that Bernal is demanding a higher salary than what the production is willing to offer. The $10 million film is trying to save money in order to shoot on location in Jordan starting in mid-July, although most of the movie will take place in interior settings.
Personally, I think they should let Bernal go and hire up-and-coming actor Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, The Reluctant Fundamentalist). He’s only a few years younger than Bernal (Ahmed is 30, Bernal is 34), and Ahmed is of middle-eastern descent. You could also go with Amr Waked (Syriana, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), who is middle-eastern as well as closer to Bahari’s age (Waked is 40, Bahari is 46). No matter whom they choose, the film is going to be sold on Stewart’s name, not the lead actor.