How a Wired magazine story became Ben Affleck's "Argo"

Nicholas Thompson in The New Yorker: "The climax of the movie Argo takes place at the airport in Tehran. Six Americans, having hidden in Iran for three months, are taking this one chance to get out of a country that’s embroiled in revolution and anger. Their cover is that they’re part of a science-fiction film crew; their guide is Tony Mendez, a C.I.A. operative. I edited the Wired magazine story—written by Joshuah Bearman—that would eventually be turned into the movie."


  1. I hear Fox Searchlight already optioned the New Yorker piece. It’s going to be a movie about a movie studio creating a movie about a Wired article about a CIA agent creating a movie in order to free six American hostages.

    1. Which bits were inaccurate? I know very little about that time period so I’m quite interested in how accurately the film portrays what happened and the background to it all.

      1. Read the New Yorker piece for a start, but really, the dismissal of Canada’s involvement in the mission was the biggest gaffe.  Thankfully, Affleck has been making overtures to publicly correct this:

      2. The bits where the Iranians use kids to put together the escapees photos. The trip to the bazaar. The cancellation of the air tickets. Being stopped at the airport to check the portfolio. The chase on the runway. The idea that the Iranians knew there were escapees from the embassy.

        Amongst others.

        1. A little creative liberty, it is after all a movie thriller, not a documentary. “Based on a true story” not a literal retelling of history.

          Even during watching the movie you get a sense it’s a dramatization. You never get those “it comes down to the last second hollywood moments” in real life. Like the case at the end. But it makes for good entertainment. The historical inacuraties are some of the best moments of the film, I don’t mind them adding those.

          1. Well that’s fine when it’s obviously entertainment. But when it’s based round events that are still in many people’s memories, in relation to a country with which the US still  has strained diplomatic relations, even the continuing possibility of war, it seems irresponsible to me. There is more than a whiff of jingoism about the whole thing.
            If I want to see exciting chases and shifty foreigners, Hollywood provides more than enough fictional content. The Canadian Caper was interesting enough without trying to make it more fun. Well maybe it could if the director could make the characters  interesting.

          2. “…in relation to a country with which the US still has strained diplomatic relations, even the continuing possibility of war…” – hey, listen, I know Americans may find us a strange and backward country, but this is the first I’ve heard that they’re contemplating war with Canada!

          3.  @Roose_Bolton:disqus : I thought this US film was about a CIA operation rescuing US embassy staff (despite the Canada, New Zealand and the UK’s involvement in reality).

  2. Seriously speaking the story of the movie is a pretty good one, but after seeing the movie trailer, it’s like seeing the movie! I mean at the part (near the end) when they pass the security I was like this is it? I paid to see a bigger trailer! It didn’t surprise me at all! I don’t mean to be rude or offensive(there a lot of great actors in it after all it’s Ben Affleck’s movie) but an awful lot of awards for this movie!

    1. I think you’re forgetting the beard.  I suggest the movie be renamed “Beardo.”  It fits nicely with the Affleck-beardo image splashed all over TV, but it might qualify as a spoiler…

      …like Mr. Affleck himself, but with a different connotation.

  3. I love the comments here. Half are complaining the movie was not nearly as historically accurate as it should have been and the other half that the movie was not exciting enough.

    I think the movie was as good as it could have been. It was “based” on actual events which means there was some creative license granted to the part of the writers. In other words, historically accurate hardly ever means exciting.

    We’ve grown up in an age of James Bond where we all think working in the intelligence
    community is sexy with gorgeous women willing to sleep with the debonair tux wearing, licensed to kill, suave, sophisticated (and highly narcissistic) secret agents at the drop of a hat. We’ve come to expect nothing less than dramatic car chases filled with explosions and last minute escapes.

    The reality of the matter is that working in the intelligence community is more similar to waiting, waiting, waiting some more, getting a piece of intel, examining that intel a thousand different ways and then waiting some more. With spying, a lack of explosions, car-chases and licensed to kill secret agents is the hallmark of a successful op.

    1. So you’re giving the screenwriters a pass on historical accuracy because “based on” gives them creative license, but we should appreciate the lack of action because real life isn’t action-packed?

      You made a case for accepting inaccurate portrayals, then you implied that we should applaud accurate portrayals.  What point are you trying to make?

  4. I find that New Yorker piece a little bit too self-laudatory. I read the Wired piece when it first came out and I was blown away by the story. The researching, the writing, and yes I suppose even the editing were very good, but it’s the story that deserves the attention and the people in the story that deserve the credit.


      The historical alterations are tacky, given that the film repeatedly pokes fun at Hollywood. [….]

      But tacky is different from damaging. In “Zero Dark Thirty,” the historical record is altered to make it seem like torture, one of this country’s great sins, was a virtue. [….] None of “Argo” ’s fibs really matter. They don’t change the way we think about history or politics. They don’t alter the emotional truth of the story.

      1. “None of “Argo”‘s fibs really matter.” 

        Well if you like to believe in the myth of American exceptionalism, I guess you would be quite happy with this jingoist lie.  But then most Americans don’t really want to know their real history so why should you be any different.

        1. Did you read the article?

          That’s a rhetorical question, because my blockquoted-quote is quoted from the article. The end of the article. Hence: SPOILER ALERT

          Also: What are you talking about? The “fibs” the article talks about (see above), are ginning up the end of the movie to promote suspense. As well as removing the Canadians. But, yeah, you’re probably right. Removing Canadians is the same as giving torture a high-five. But they’re Canadians — what are they gonna do about it? Apologize?

  5. Sorry I have to jump on @google-fdc233e49cd0724ff8580732d8b8bd86:disqus bandwagon. Ar-go-uck-yourself! 

  6. I was and am willing to forgive the movie’s stretching of the truth.  There were a few obvious product placements as well – yeah, they smoked everywhere in the 70s, but did they have to make the point with a sledgehammer?  The one thing that I think that the movie gave short shrift to is the back story.  They danced very lightly over why the Iranian people were in upheaval, why the Americans were hated (“an American gun killed my son” notwithstanding), and how US and British meddling in Iran’s government allowed enormous repression and abuse of their people to go on for decades.  I live in the southeast, and amazingly few of the people I meet seem aware of our history in that part of the world.

    1. You must be one of those agitators that reads books and stuff.

      Repeat after me:  TERRISTS HATE OUR FREEDUM.

      Now go bake a flag cake and stop worrying your pretty little head.

  7. I’m sorry, but I think that Argo was pretty lame.

    The ending where they are trying to get to the plane on the tarmac and all the sudden the bus driver forgets how to drive and can’t get the car in gear. C’mon

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