Gael Garcia Bernal Joins Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut

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Jon Stewart is sharply hilarious and Gael Garcia Bernal honed his comedic chops against Will Ferrell, but the pair are teaming up for the first time to tackle a grimly serious subject.

Stewart has cast the 34-year-old Mexican actor as the lead in his directorial debut, according to "The Daily Show" host will take a leave of absence this summer to work on the Iranian-set "Rosewater." While correspondent Jon Oliver sits at the news desk for eight of the 12 weeks his boss will be gone, Stewart will direct the star of "Amores Perros" in the story of a journalist, Maziar Bahari, who visits Iran on assignment and ends up jailed for 118 days and roughed up by an interrogator who smells of rosewater. Hey, look, it's the title!

Stewart and writer Aimee Molloy adapted the story from Bahari's 2011 memoir, "Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival."

Bahari spoke about his real-life captivity in a 2009 "Daily Show" appearance, which the Iranian government later used as "evidence" that the Iranian-Canadian journalist is a spy.

Stewart snatched up the rights to the book under his Busboy Productions umbrella. Bernal is no stranger to political subject matter, having starred in "The Motorcycle Diaries" and produced "Chavez," directed by his "Amores Perros" costar Diego Luna. The pair were in Ferrell's Spanish-language comedy "Casa de mi Padre." Stewart often cracks wise about his own so-so acting career on "The Daily Show," which has included "Death to Smoochy," "Big Daddy" (with Adam Sandler) and Robert Rodriguez's "The Faculty."

"Rosewater" is targeting a 2014 release.