Argo has a premise that demands a seamless blend of laughs and thrills: in 1979, the U.S. embassy in Tehran was sieged by Iranian militants and the CIA found themselves with the impossible challenge of covertly removing six of the staff who successfully fled the scene. To get the escapees out of the Canadian embassy, operative Tony Mendez (played by director Ben Affleck in the film) conceived a plan that involved hiring Hollywood producers to fake a production of a big budget sci-fi film. The Star Wars knock-off would film in Tehran and the embassy staff would be “the crew.”
The film has two distinct parts: the first feels like an Ocean’s 11-style caper plot, with Affleck’s Mendez, John Goodman as makeup artist John Chambers, and Alan Arkin’s hot shot producer Lester Siegel working together to conjure up a fake movie. The second half dumps Affleck in Tehran and the escape is absolutely terrifying. How did Affleck successfully merge the two tonally-opposite halves? Simple: great actors.
In this exclusive clip from the Q&A conducted for EPIX and LA Times’ Envelope Screening Series, Affleck describes how great actors — in this case, Goodman and Arkin — can make anything work in the context of a movie as long as it’s believable. Watch the clip below and check our Argo, in theaters now:
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[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]