Ben Affleck was forced to scrap plans to visit Iran in preparation for his work on the real-life hostage drama "Argo" amid fears his trip would be turned into a propaganda stunt by the country's officials.
The Hollywood actor/director stars in and directs the film, which chronicles the heroic CIA rescue mission to free six Americans holed up in Iran, and smuggle them out of the country during the nation's 1979 revolution. He was keen to visit the Middle East before production began on "Argo" to view the lay of the land in order to accurately portray the city of Tehran on film, but he was warned against the idea by U.S. State Department authorities.
He tells Interview magazine, "I wanted to go -- just for research -- very badly. I really wanted to be accurate. The studio however, said, 'This is a bad idea', to which I responded, 'Well, I'm just going to go as a private person, without any association with the movie or the studio -- just as a tourist.'
"Then I talked to the State Department about it, and they said, 'Look, you could go, but there's a likelihood that people from the (Iranian) government will show up with a camera, shake your hand, take pictures, and say, 'See, this American supports what we're doing.' All of a sudden, a visit that's supposed to be apolitical and personal could be publicized and create a headache for me and the movie. I wanted to feel like the brave, intrepid filmmaker who is not afraid, but then eventually it was like, 'Maybe I am afraid a little bit.'"
Instead, the cast and crew shot footage in Istanbul, Turkey, while a Hancock Park estate in Los Angeles doubled for the Canadian ambassador's residence in Tehran, and the Ontario International Airport just outside the city became the Tehran airport for the film. Ailing actress Zsa Zsa Gabor's Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion was also used as a Hollywood producer's headquarters in the movie.