'Argo's' Real-Life People Speak Out About The Mission And The Movie: Video

EXCLUSIVE: Appearing on several year-end ten best lists and nominated for 5 Golden Globes, 2 SAG and 7 Critics Choice Movie Awards, Ben Affleck’s Argo is clearly one to watch when Oscar nominations are announced on January 10th. The story, set during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, tells of a top secret CIA mission  to rescue six Americans hiding out in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran by passing them off as crew members of a fake Hollywood movie production. The effort was successful and the mission was declassified in 1997 finally allowing all the key players to talk about it for the first time. Producer/Director Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the CIA operative who hatched the wild scheme. In this exclusive featurette Mendez and the six “house guests” as they were known, along with the actors who portray them,  detail the extraordinary rescue and the movie version that has now earned over $100 million at the box office, with a major re-release reportedly planned by Warner Bros shortly after Oscar nominations are announced. The critically acclaimed October release ironically finds itself competing for Academy attention against another major studio film about a high profile CIA mission set in the Mideast, Sony’s  Zero Dark Thirty which, though winning wide acclaim  along with several Best Picture honors from critics groups and showing box office power in its initial limited release, has become a controversial political football and denounced by key Senators and the acting head of the CIA for what they claim is playing with the truth. Because the hunt for Osama bin Laden is still classified and top secret, most of the real people depicted in that film can’t talk or even have their actual idenities revealed. In the battle for credibility, always an issue with fact-based movie versions, this gives Argo a distinct advantage in having the real people involved available to tell their story and directly validate the movie,  precisely the point of this featurette.

  1. Argo was fun, entertaining, tense and, most importantly, based on fact. The entire production team, cast and Ben Affleck should take great pride for a film so well done.

    Thank you, the real ‘house guests’ and Tony Mendez for a story that Hollywood would probably never have done had it not been true. No one would believe it as fiction.

    1. The movie was based on fact?

      Seriously?

      Have you read the real story? It was at best inspired by a true story but hardly based on fact.

      All the close calls that comprised well over half the movie never happened. They were totally manufactured for the movie.

      Tony Mendez wasn’t separated. Alan Arkush’s character didn’t even exist. The chase on the runway, the several barriers and threats at the airport, the walk in the plaza… never happened.

      The Canadians deserve all the credit but were totally undervalued in the movie. And the Canadians weren’t the first ones that these people went to for help. They were with several others before they got to the Canadians.

      If Zero Dark Thirty wasn’t “fact,” as some want to claim, Argo was pure fiction.

      A really fun movie indeed, but the movie is disingenuous for representing itself as “true” (not to mention using painstakingly impressive visual details to bolster this implicit claim)… and then totally rewriting history with virtually all of the big important dramatic beats.

      1. Why do the Canadians deserve all the credit? It was an American CIA plan. The Canadians weren’t undervalued at all despite all their whining about this film’s production. They got plenty of credit for their ambassadors putting their lives on the line.

    2. I have a question…. After seeing ARGO multiple times and meeting Tony Mendez and hearing him and his wife speak, I am wondering if the housekeeper at the Canadian Embassy was designed after a real character and why she didn’t US citizenship. Thank you for your time.
      Amazing man, book, cast… EVERYTHING!

  2. They don’t validate everything that happens in the movie. The Canadians’ involvement in the mission is completely underplayed in the movie. And the final chase scene through the airport is patently ridiculous (not to mention absolute fiction). I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t understand in what world this is a candidate for Best Picture.

    1. ……..And the dialogue was made up!

      So What! It’s a movie not a documentary. Even Docs play with the truth for dramatic impact.

      So What! The story happened and it’s fairly factual. Movies are ENTERTAINMENT! And the audiences obviously loved it.

    2. Whether or not the film is completely true to fact or not should have absolutely no bearing on whether it is a candidate for Best Picture. A movie’s first responsibility is to entertain the audience. Otherwise, what’s the point of making the movie? I’m a Canadian, myself, and would loved to have seen more of their role, but that doesn’t prevent the film from being one of the best I’ve seen this year.

    3. Like the famous saying goes: When the legend becomes fact print the legend. It’s a movie. Relax. Not every single detail has to be historically accurate.

    4. I agree. I enjoyed Argo but was far from blown away. It felt like a very safe story about a very dangerous mission with Ben Affleck doing a very safe performance of a character who could have been filled with flaws and secrets and utterly fascinating. Instead he is a Christ figure, selfless, oozing virtue, the smartest guy in the room (every time), and we are treated to a predictable narrative where once again the clever white Americans outwit the dumb fanatical brown skins.

    5. I’m with you. I almost feel I should watch it again – which film was everyone else watching! I’m not surprised the Iranian government is making its own version, Oh well I suppose it might make Americans better about having to kill two dimensional Iranians. I was so looking forward to this film, and am totally disappointed.

  3. After friends of former Canadian ambassador to Iran,Ken Taylor objected to Argo’s version of the truth, Ben Affleck invited Taylor and his wife to a meeting in Los Angeles,to see the film and contribute to the DVD commentary. The incident was described by an article in the Sept. 19 issue of the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s slugged “Ben Affleck shows Ken Taylor some Hollywood diplomacy.” For Canadians, this was a big improvement from their fate in 1963′s ” The Great Escape”.That script eliminated all Canadians, despite the fact real-life Canadian escape tunnel king, Wally Floody spent a year and a half as the key technical advisor on the film. Floody got no screen credit and later dutifully promoted the film in Canada,while having to explain that the portrayed characters were “just composites” of real people. There is more on Floody and the real escape in James Garner’s book, “The Garner Files.”

  4. Whether a movie has fictional elements (even when based on a true story) or not has no bearing on his qualifications for best picture. The product as a whole, acting, directing, story, etc…dictates that nomination (as well as Hollywood politics).

  5. Let’s address the elephant in the ARGO film: Tony Mendez is Latino and Ben Affleck is not. Affleck sanitized Mendez’s character; we did not see how this character made it to the CIA and survived within the CIA dispite the fact that at the time U.S. Latino spys were almost non-existent. Affleck’s version of the events are fictional, beginning with his ridiculous portrayal of Tony MENDEZ; lack of Canadian perspective on events and the chase scene through the airport.

    1. It’s so upsetting. This would have been the PERFECT ROLE to launch some gritty, method Latino actor – imagine how fantastic Oscar Issac or Edgar Rameriz (Carlos the Jackal) would have been in this. They’re much better actors too – this could have been Ramirez’s breakthrough.

      I refuse to see Argo.

    2. There is no elephant. The only people that care are whiny nit-pickers.

      Ben Affleck cast himself to secure funding mostly. It wasn’t an anti-Latino conspiracy.

    3. Would it have been so detrimental to this production to have remained faithful to history at least in the casting of the person at the center of this case? Casting a Latino would not have been a favor to anyone. Americans re-elected Obama, so risks to potential box office as an excuse simply doesn’t cut it. And it definitely can’t be attributed to a shortage of proper talent. Mr. Affleck already had the privilege of producing and directing. By grabbing the leading role too he not only reduces this to a vanity piece and denies an extremely rare role to, say, an Oscar-winning Benicio del Toro (who would’ve brought fantastic texture to such a character), but also strips Latino youngsters of a capable, initiative-taking, genuinely heroic figure in American cinema. Just think: which was the last Latino character with heroic traits you remember seeing at the movies (played by a Latino)? Here’s a chance for you to show some true colors, Academy.

  6. The simple fact is, if the French started claiming they were responsible for the success of The American Revolution, rather than being involved in some peripheral way, this country would explode.

    In reality, a small group of Canadian diplomats took the six Americans in when they were turned away by all others, sheltered them, hid them and fed them for what seemed an eternity – every day of which could have led to their deaths if discovered – and kept them safe until they could be slipped out of the countyy.

    In the early 1980s, whenever I visited America, dinner was usually free because I spoke Canadian, eh? That all seems to be forgotten now in the typical present day American attitude of “exceptionalism” which sucks all the oxygen out of any room.

    1. And how did the Americans in this film and out ever deny the Canadians valuable assistance? What more did you need to see?

      The audience already knows the stakes that the Canadians and Americans were up against.

      I think you Canucks are just being really insecure.

  7. Some guy above said he refuses to see Argo, because it wasn’t based on 100% facts. What a tool….

    Let’s see:

    SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
    MONETYBALL
    PULP FICTION
    INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
    E.T.
    JAWS
    ROCKY
    AMERICAN BEAUTY

    All based on facts, right???!!!!

  8. “Argo” was a great movie, but it was definitely NOT the real story. The real story was pretty dull, actually. The CIA plan worked absolutely perfectly and was never in any jeopardy at all. Basically all of the 2nd half of the movie was dramatized/fiction. That said, it was brilliant filmmaking and highly deserving of success, critical praise and awards.

  9. Moments before the movie began, I was wondering what liberal slants it was going to have.
    1. The pre-shaw leader of Iran was painted as a hero.
    2. The mean cruel Americans overthrew him in exchange for the shaw.
    3. Because of the shaws tortuous government, the wonderful, peace loving Muslims overthrew the shaw, in exchange for a worse leader, and it’s America’s fault.
    4 no mention of how carter supported the overthrow.
    5. No mention of Carter’s other related failures, or Reagan’s successes.

    One more note, a 747 must reach a speed of 180 mph to take off. How can a military vehicle and a couple of AMC Matadores reach speeds of 185 mph to catch up with the jet as its taking off? It’s okay if they wanted to make the movie more exciting, but they got carried away with that one.

  10. And what about Canadian wrestling icon Rick Martel having to lose the AWA World Heavyweight Championship to that fat hillbilly Stan Hansen back in 1985? Huh? Canadians get no respect, I tell ya.

  11. The movie was average at best, nothing really amazing here or really oscar worthy. A plain jane performance from Ben Affleck honestly. what scene should he even be considered for an oscar for, none that i saw, nothing really to see here just move along!!!

  12. I dunno, seems to me that the REAL story could have been told, and the movie would have been just as good. Instead, we have a typical formula movie, and the basic theme was done better by “Not without my daughter.” (Which, I believe stuck to the facts) As far as the “real” story, I would say Canadian effort was about 98% and American CIA about 2%. And yes, as far as the ‘liberal’ slant, I consider myself a liberal, but I was also a bit put off by the uh…politically correct slant.

  13. Loved it! I am Canadian and not surprised that Americans portrayed themselves as superior to Canadians, they have always had that mentality. Who cares. Just remember the tv show Talking with Americans by Rick Mercer and laugh, it’s more fun!

  14. I’m with you. Why are people so intent on making us look worse than we are? Wake up, people! We have a black, democratic president. We’re trying to HELP Latinos get into the country LEGALLY. America isn’t a where it used to be. True, we still have some problems. But the fact that the main character was white in a MOVIE isn’t one of them.

  15. Left out sgt james lopez lead iranian employess and 8 americans out to freedom No lopez, no argo only msg marine in 2nd building. Very quiet guy did not want the limelight

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