Ben Affleck Talks About Espionage, Hollywood And The Truth In Argo
As both a director and an actor, Affleck also had a big ace up his sleeve during production in that the real Tony Mendez was open to talking with the cast and crew about his experiences. By the time that the director had a chance to meet with him, Mendez was already “steeped in the movie,” having already spoken to the author of the article that inspired the film, Joshuah Bearman, as well as producer Grant Teslov and Terrio. It was during Affleck’s meeting with him, however, that the reality of the world he would be reinventing for the feature dawned on him.
“He wanted to meet me at this old famous CIA bar in Georgetown and he was telling me it was where Aldrich Ames passed names of the American agents in Russia to his Russian handlers,” Affleck recalled. “And when he told me that it kind of sunk in all of a sudden that it was real. This is a real story about a real guy who worked in a real world where real lives were at stake. It wasn’t sliding down the roof and kicking in the window and shooting three guys – the kind of thing that we in Hollywood tend to think of the CIA. It’s a real thing and it’s out there with these folks making these sacrifices for us every day.”
Part of dealing with that reality is also dealing with real politics and a factual portrayal of world affairs. Argo begins with what could almost be described as an educational video, going over the backstory of the Iranian revolution, the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Obviously any story is going to be affected and interpreted differently based on personal and political bias, but that was something Affleck was very careful about while making this movie.
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