Ben Affleck Talks Playing Latino CIA Agent Tony Mendez in 'Argo'

'Argo' is based on the true story of Latino CIA Agent Tony Mendez, who rescued six Americans hiding out at the Canadian Embassy during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.


Ben Affleck is all smiles as his latest film, “Argo,” has yet to hit theaters and is already creating Oscar buzz.

Affleck, who directed the film and plays the lead role of Latino CIA Agent Antonio “Tony” Mendez, says he really wanted to tell Mendez’s story.

“Argo” is the story of the incredible rescue by Mendez of six Americans hiding out in the Canadian embassy during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

The film opens up in theaters on Friday.

“This was based on Tony’s book,” Affleck said at the “Argo” media junket in Los Angeles. 

“We didn’t know about Tony before so I wanted to tell his story and part of this story is about the sacrifice that people make in the foreign service, the sacrifice people make in the clandestine service.”

“Whatever country you are from… it can be quite dangerous,” he added. “That sense of sacrifice was really, really important for me to show.”

For Affleck, acting, directing and ultimately producing have always been intertwined. He says that this film and character allowed him to do “the thing that I love doing.”

“I never saw all those aspects of filmmaking being totally separate,” Affleck said.

“OK, you are in your box for acting and you are in your box for directing, [but] I always saw it as all part of the same.”

“When I came to Hollywood I wanted to do all of it,” he continued. “I love this. This is the thing that I love doing in life and so I’ve been very lucky to have been able to do it."

Affleck, who earned a degree in Middle Eastern studies in college, says he did not want “Argo” to be “preachy.”

“I didn’t want to tell people what to think,” he said. “I did want to allow the audience to ask questions. I did want to show these events in a very real and purely, factual way, so they could be conceptualized so that people could all draw their own conclusions from it.”  

The actor/director revealed he fell in love with the script because this was an “incredible tense thriller, this really funny comedy and this really cool spy story that are all wrapped up in one.”

“It is provocative in the sense that it is incredibly relevant to what is happening now in one of the most important parts of the world,” Affleck said.

“My job as a director was to make a movie work,” he added, “to take a long series of events with a million players and try to turn that into a three-act-story that you could understand. And I did that by rooting it with Tony’s character as he moves through.”