For the past two weeks, Gael García Bernal has been making the rounds on TV -- late night shows, morning shows, news programs, and even fake news programs -- to promote his newest film, the Jon Stewart-directed drama Rosewater. After talking with Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon earlier in the week, he appeared -- this past Thursday -- on a special edition of The Daily Show entirely dedicated to Rosewater.
In the starring role, Gael plays Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was tortured, imprisoned, and held for more than 100 days in solitary confinement in an Iranian jail. Based on Bahari's memoir, where he recounts the terrors he was subjected to amidst accusations of acting as a foreign spy, the movie was adapted for the screen by Jon Stewart. It turns out, the host of The Daily Show was inadvertently linked to the story.
A few days before Bahari's arrest, he appeared on a segment of the satirical news show in an interview with Jason Jones, a correspondent for The Daily Show, who jokingly referred to himself, on-camera, as an American spy. Later, during questioning by the Revolutionary Guard, Bahari was shown a clip of the show as proof that he was colluding with evil outsiders trying to overthrow the Iranian government. Bahari incredulously asks his torturer, "Why would a real spy have a TV show?"
On the eve of the movie's release and towards the end of a long press day, I talked to a fatigued-sounding Gael about the added pressure of playing a role based on a real person. He'd probably been asked that very same question a hundred times that day, but he answered it anyway. After a few more questions about the movie, the conversation turned to current events in Mexico and suddenly it became clear that I had struck a nerve.
Gael spoke passionately about the disappearance of the 43 students in Iguala and how it is part of his job, as a member of society, to fight to change things. It's the type of conversation that celebrities tend to shy away from during a press junket, but from the urgency in his voice I understood that he just couldn't hold back.