Ben Affleck directs and stars in his widely-acclaimed comic thriller based on a remarkable true story about a CIA ‘exfiltration’ expert who concocts an outlandish plan to get a group of stranded Americans out of Iran. On November 4, 1979, a group of Islamist militants took control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held fifty-two embassy personnel hostage. Six members of the embassy staff managed to escape and secretly took refuge in the Canadian embassy, where they remain in constant danger from the militants’ door-to-door searches. The CIA’s Tony Mendez (Affleck) proposes entering Iran as producer of fake Canadian sci-fi movie Argo to scout the arid landscapes for alien locations, while sneaking out the six mission targets as film crew imposters. To put his plan into action, Mendez needs expert advice, which leads him to befriend and recruit veteran Hollywood producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to the cause. A script is cranked out and the plan is put into action – once he lands in Iran, Mendez is going to have to play the role of a lifetime.
Argo is based on the ‘Canadian Caper’ that took place during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 and 1980. Chris Terrio wrote the screenplay based on the 2007 Wired article How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran by Joshuah Bearman. Producers George Clooney, Grant Heslov and David Klawans set up a project based on the article in the same year, and Ben Affleck’s attachment to the project was announced in 2011.
On his approach to making the film Affleck says, ‘I didn’t want Argo to be politicised internationally or domestically in a partisan way. I just wanted to tell a story that was about the facts as I understood them. And what that meant was probably two people with different political perspectives would walk away with two different interpretations. We tried and made an honest and real film based on a true story for the audience.’
BBFC Cert 15.