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Ben Affleck was warned against Iran trip for 'Argo' research


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.

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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.

Oct 30, 2012 4:06PM
SOOOO, the state dept told Affleck not to go BUT they did nothing about people dying in Libya??
Oct 30, 2012 4:02PM
hell they should have let him go . maybe one of those fanatic muslims would have shot him are held him hostage . either one would have been fine . actors like him  ( if you can call him a actor) who use there celebrity to harm this country ain't worth a damn.
Oct 30, 2012 3:50PM
Here is what the State Department got right:  Affleck's presence there could be used for propaganda, but not in the way the State Dept tells it.  It is true that that country is a semi-dictatorship.  But it's not true that they are uncivilized, that their people are barbaric or it's a dangerous country.  You are safer there, walking at nights, alone, than you are in most metropolitan American cities.  If you get lost (which is very easy, it's a big, confusing city), people will go out of their way to help you find where you're going, they'll share their cell phones for you to call and ask for directions, and in one case the store owner that I stopped to ask for directions offered me a cup of hot tea with sweets.  It is that kind of information that might blow the image of a terrorist country who's thirsty for American blood that perhaps they were warning Affleck about.

Now, about their government, it's a terrible one.  And if I were Affleck, any attempt that that government would make to politicize Affleck's visit could be relatively easily countered by bringing up the question of human rights violations of their citizens.   Folks, that country is nothing like they tell you in movies and in the news.  It is a complex country full of beauty, and paradoxes, and it's going through lots of change.  It is not hostile at all to private citizens who go in there openly. It's very different, but it's also refreshingly inviting.  It'll blow many stereotypes that has managed to find its way into your mind.
Oct 30, 2012 3:28PM
and he can take Alec Baldwin with him!
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