Former Canadian Diplomat Still Miffed About 'Argo' Version Of Events

Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.

Ben Affleck’s historical thriller Argo is a favorite to win Best Picture tonight at the 85th Academy Awards. But with hours to go before the ceremony, former Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor still feels the movie gives Canada short shrift. As Canada’s ambassador to Iran in the late 70s, Taylor was responsible for the embassy’s decision to hide 6 American diplomatic personnel from Iranian authorities after the 1979 revolution, and hid two of the 6 fugitives in his Tehran residence. But after seeing Argo, he was unsettled by the movie’s focus on the efforts of CIA operative Tony Mendes. “In general it makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride,” Taylor told Canada’s CBC network over the weekend. “The Canadians were brave. Period”.

Related: Will Politics Affect The Oscar Race?

This isn’t Taylor’s first beef with Argo. When it played the Toronto Film Festival, Taylor’s friends were incensed by a postscript that implied he didn’t quite deserve the citations and awards he received for his efforts. Affleck changed the postscript at Taylor’s request. Now Taylor says Affleck should recognize Canada’s contribution in his acceptance speech should Argo win tonight. “I would hope he would. If he doesn’t then it’s a further reflection,” Taylor said. “But given the events of the last while, I’m not necessarily anticipating anything.” Affleck said in a statement “In light of my many conversations as well as a change to an end card that Ken requested I am surprised that Ken continues to take issue with the film”.

  1. As much as I enjoyed ‘Argo’ the film does give needless shortshrift to not only the Canadians but also the British, the latter especially singled out in a line spoken by Bryan Cranston to the effect they, and I believe the New Zealanders (if memory serves), left the hostages in the lurch. Not so, they risked their lives, as at least one of the former hostages has said. Hollywood’s take on historical accuracy is one thing, but Ken Taylor is right to take issue with Affleck here.

  2. All Ben has to do is when they win make it 100% clear that what did happen was in big part due to Taylor and thank him.

  3. It’s a bunch of nothing. It’s a movie. Movie stories based on a real life story are tampered with ALL the time.
    I don’t think Argo is the BEST picture of the year, but it will most prob. win anyway.

  4. Ben has everything. Why does he need another Oscar. I have never seen a movie lobbied so hard to win an Oscar. I hope it losses also. It has nothing to do with best picture just best advertising campaign.

  5. This is ridiculous. The Canadians got plenty of face time and were praised for their assistance. This guy is whining that the entire film wasn’t seen from the Canadian perspective but the obviously more cinematic CIA story.

    1. You should go read the real story.

      Argo is a fun movie, but the CIA had virtually NOTHING to do with saving those Americans. Almost every complication in the movie right down to the ending is a complete fabrication for the sake of the movie.

      The Canadians did virtually everything of true heroism in this story, so I don’t blame this ambassador being miffed. Argo is a fictional movie that purports to be about something real; at best, it’s inspired by a true story, but that’s about where the reality ends.

      So it’s not about they getting plenty of screentime… it’s the portrayal of the CIA as being heroes rescuing these Americans when the true story is that the Canadians saved their lives.

  6. I bet if someone made a movie about the deep south but twisted the facts a abit people would be prostesting in mass numbers.

  7. controversy quickly tamped down if you go read the official report of what happened. this is a movie about Mendez’s role is securing the release of the six Americans. For years, Taylor was lauded and received far more credit than was accurate (though he deserved enormous credit for his bravery and assistance) which he happily took. It odd that he bristles so much now at having to share credit. The “house guests” have all confirmed the US account. Several documentaries are in the works so we’ll see what comes out of that.

  8. ok…as a history teacher and a canadian,,,i dont care about films that dont purport themselves as fact, and this film does not,,,it was very entertaining…

    however the fact is canadians were the vital lifeboat and the main executives in the rescue…this is fact….supported by the president recently ,,,of the time….

    it amazes me how the us media (hollywood) grabs historical facts and corrupts them into fables….eg the movie U 571…another canadian venture in wwII taken as an american victory

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