Tradecraft: Ben Affleck Tackles True Tale of CIA in Iran
Deadline reports that Ben Affleck's new movie, Argo (which has just started shooting) is a spy movie based on one portion of Antonio Mendez's CIA memoir The Master of Disguise. I was aware of this movie, but under the impression that it was about something else entirely. According to the trade blog, Argo "sheds light on the real-life covert operation to rescue a group of Americans during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Six of the 52 Americans taken hostage during Iran’s revolution managed to flee and find refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. The risky mission to rescue them before militants discovered their whereabouts was carried out by CIA exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez, and was not made public for decades." Affleck not only directs, but also stars as Mendez. Chris Terrio wrote the adaptation. Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman (fresh off a terrific performance in Kevin Smith's Red State) round out the cast.
Mendez's real-life plan sounds like something that Mission: Impossible's Jim Phelps would have devised. Taking a page from After the Fox, he created a phony movie studio making a phony sci-fi movie called Argo (hence the title) who were supposedly scouting locations for their film around Tehran when the revolution occurred. Facing all sorts of harrowing odds, he and his team managed (with the extraordinary cooperation of the Canadian ambassador, who put himself in considerable danger) to spirit the six Americans out of the country disguised as location scouts for the film.
Another director/star, George Clooney, was attached to a previous version of this project.