Actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck will leave Boston for his next directorial effort. He’s set to helm the political thriller “Argo” about the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis. He’ll also appear in the film with a starry supporting cast that is set to include Oscar-winner Alan Arkin and Emmy winners John Goodman and Bryan Cranston.
The project was lent an additional shot of star power when George Clooney agreed to produce with Grant Heslov. The script is by Chris Terrio based on an April 2007 Wired.com article by Joshuah Bearman titled “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran.”
The Wired story told “the true story of how the CIA, with help from Hollywood, used a fake movie project to smuggle six U.S. diplomats out of Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. ‘Argo’ was the name of the fake movie,” notes the Hollywood Reporter.
Arkin would play a Tinseltown producer named Lester Siegel—described as “a former O.S.S. spy, equal parts bookie and rabbi”—while Goodman would take on the real-life role of Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers (“Planet of the Apes”) who was enlisted to help pull off the con job. Affleck has the lead role of CIA “exfiltration expert” Tony Mendez.
The Canadian government also played a role in the rescue by providing fake passports and cover stories for the hostages—in fact, the mission is popularly known as “The Canadian Caper“—while the C.I.A. went so far as to set up a dummy production office in Hollywood and purchase advertisements in trade publication Variety.
IndieWire.com notes “the fake movie stuff should be pretty amusing” but the film “will also have a strong dose of realism, too, as Affleck plans to have the actors who will play hostages live together in a ‘safe house’ for two weeks prior to the start of filming so they can become acquainted with what their real-life counterparts went through.”
Trivia: 2007’s “Gone Baby Gone,” Affleck’s directorial debut, grossed a modest $34.6 million dollars at the worldwide box office and snagged costar Amy Ryan a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. His follow-up, last year’s “The Town,” was a sizable hit, earning more than $154 million worldwide as well as an Oscar gong for Jeremy Renner as Best Supporting Actor.
Trivia: The real-life Mendez and his wife both serve on the board of the International Spy Museum.
CLICK HERE for the Hollywood Reporter story.
CLICK HERE for the IndieWire story.