Ben Affleck Talks About Espionage, Hollywood And The Truth In Argo
Oscar season is finally starting to really heat up, and right out of the gate Ben Affleck’sArgo looks poised for Oscar gold. The story of how the CIA managed to free six American hostages trapped in a Canadian embassy during the Iranian revolution, the film is an absolutely stunning work, with Affleck creating an intoxicating and immersive atmosphere while balancing a tone that wonderfully lobs back and forth from laugh-out-loud funny to nails-digging-into-armrest tense. It’s the best movie the director has made thus far, which is high praise when discussing the man behind Gone Baby Gone and The Town, but he’s earned it. Hence why I was so pleased to hear Affleck talk about his latest work at a recent press event in Los Angeles.
In anticipation of Argo’s domestic theatrical release, members of the media gathered at the Beverly Hotel – a location featured in the movie – where Affleck and members of his cast and crew participated in a press conference and answered journalists’ questions.
Off the bat Affleck discussed what it was about the true life thriller that led him to want to make it his third directorial effort, and, as you probably could have guessed given the praise floating around the film, it was all about the screenplay written by Chris Terrio. “They say, ‘Oh yeah, this our best script,’ and usually you think that's an executive kind of hyping you on it, and it really was pretty incredible,” Affleck said. “I was amazed.” After signing on he recalls reading books and watching documentaries about the real event and then going back to Terrio and asking him how he managed to create a three act structure out of what could have been “a 10 hour miniseries.”
But Affleck doesn’t just serve as Argo’s director – he’s also the film’s star. Playing Tony Mendez, the man who develops and executes the plan to get the hostages out under the guise of being a Canadian film crew, Affleck says that what led him to take the part on was the mix of humor, espionage and truth. Oh, and the fact that he had ties to the man in charge of the production.
Said the star, “I wanted to play him because…the script was really interesting, and what struck me almost right away was you have this thriller, and then in equal measure this kind of comic Hollywood satire, and this really intricate real life CIA spy story, and it's all based on truth. So that seemed like a fantastically interesting and unusual movie to be part of, and I really wanted to direct it. And then this sort of actor side of my brain, that is still in that phase of auditioning and trying to make connections and get work, asked the director of that movie for a job, and the director was in a tough spot and had to say yes.”
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