At a Toronto press conference for his new film Argo, Ben Affleck explains how the story - based on real events - exemplify the need for the U.S. and Canada to work together on international crises.
The star actor looks comfortable at the presser for Argo, screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. I would even say he looks excited, especially compared to some of the cast who look downright bored (John Goodman) or confused (Alan Arkin). Also at the presser was Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), who was stoically silent until this journalist asked him a question on his acting range.
Argo is a thriller about a CIA "exfiltration" expert who comes up with an outlandish plan to rescue six stranded Americans out of Tehran after the 1979 invasion of the American embassy — by having them masquerade as a Hollywood film crew.
Bryan Cranston during a press conference in Toronto for the film Argo
It's a subject close to Affleck's heart: he took Middle Eastern studies in college, didn't graduate, but has written more than one paper on political science in the region. "This is definitely in my zone of interests," Affleck says. "It's good to make a movie I'm really proud of."
Affleck plays Tony Mendez, who cooks up the scheme and is expected to play the role of a lifetime as a phony documentary filmmaker. While based on a true story, the screenwriters stretched the truth to add a bit more suspense and action.
So what's the Canadian connection? The mission was a joint effort between Canada and the U.S. to extricate the endangered diplomats by disguising them as a CBC film crew. The hostages took refuge in the house of then Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber).
"It was truly a moment when the U.S. had to thank Canada deeply," Affleck notes. He adds the film makes sure to respect Canada's contribution to the effort.
Ben Affleck during a press conference in Toronto for the film Argo
"The U.S. was in Canada's debt," Affleck says at another point. "Sure, they have a complicated relationship with Canada back then, but this was a really special moment between the two countries."
The director/actor couldn't gush enough about the talent in the film. "I feel like I won the lottery, with all these actors," Affleck says, pointing to Arkin, Goodman and Cranston. "I was really happy to see John and Alan keeping the satire realistic."
Arkin was asked how he was inspired to play the role of the producer joining the team of extraction specialists, and he answered wryly, "I just thought about all the Hollywood producers I know, wasn't hard."
Cranston was attracted to the role thanks to the writing. "I loved how visceral the character is, and I talked to Ben on how to be represent this guy and the job he has to do." The Breaking Bad star has been busy; Argo is his eleventh film in two years.
"Yeah, I don't golf much," Cranston said, half-laughing.
Argo opens Oct. 12.