Is the movie Argo (2012) based on a true story?

Olivia Thompson Olivia Thompson Apr 23, 2022 · 3 mins read
Is the movie Argo (2012) based on a true story?
Share this

Yes, the movie Argo (2012) is based on a true story. It is based on the “Canadian Caper” mission in which a group of American diplomats were rescued during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 by posing as a Canadian film crew. The operation was led by Tony Mendez, a CIA officer, and had the support of the Canadian government.

What is the true story behind the movie Argo (2012)?

Argo is a 2012 American thriller film directed by Ben Affleck, based on the true story of a CIA rescue mission called the Canadian Caper during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The movie is based on the true story of six American diplomats stranded in Iran after the US embassy was seized by Iranian revolutionaries in November 1979. The six Americans hid in the home of the Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, and were eventually smuggled out of the country by CIA agent Tony Mendez.

The movie depicts Mendez (played by Affleck) traveling to Iran under the guise of a film producer scouting locations for a science fiction film called Argo, and using the cover of a Hollywood movie to extract the six Americans from Tehran. In reality, Mendez did travel to Iran under the guise of a movie producer, but the name of the fake movie was actually Lord of Light.

To facilitate the escape, Mendez enlisted the help of John Chambers, a Hollywood makeup artist who had worked on films like Planet of the Apes, to create a fake movie production company called Studio Six Productions. Mendez also enlisted the help of Bob Anders, who had been one of the six Americans who had escaped the embassy and was hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s residence.

The plan involved creating fake identities and documents for the six Americans, as well as creating a detailed cover story for their presence in Iran as part of the film crew. The group was eventually able to make it to the airport and board a Swissair flight to Zurich, with the Iranians believing that they were part of a film crew leaving the country.

The events of the Canadian Caper and the efforts of Tony Mendez were declassified by the US government in 1997, and the CIA operative received the Intelligence Star for his service. The movie Argo was based on a 2007 article in Wired magazine entitled “The Great Escape,” which chronicled the events of the Canadian Caper. However, there has been some controversy over the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of events and the degree to which the Hollywood angle was emphasized.

Are there any books about the true story behind the movie Argo (2012)?

Yes, there are several books about the true story behind the movie Argo. Some of them are:

  1. “Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History” by Antonio J. Mendez and Matt Baglio
  2. “The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA” by Antonio J. Mendez
  3. “Escape from Tehran: A True Story of Betrayal and Intrigue” by Mark Lijek and Cora Amburn-Lijek
  4. “Our Man in Tehran: The True Story Behind the Secret Mission to Save Six Americans During the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Foreign Ambassador Who Worked with the CIA to Bring Them Home” by Robert Wright.

You can try an audible free trial and search for audiobook versions of those

Olivia Thompson
Written by Olivia Thompson
Making a difference, one step at a time.