THR Helps Find Real Life 'Argo' Character; Ben Affleck 'Thought He Was Dead'

9:00 AM PST 10/18/2012 by Merle Ginsberg & Gary Baum
Warner Bros. Pictures
Alan Arkin, left, who plays a Hollywood producer in "Argo," with director-star Ben Affleck

The makeup artist who served as the fake film's producer was flown on Warner Bros. dime to an L.A. screening -- and thinks the real movie's a lock for Oscar noms.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In 1980, THR ran an ad promoting the "original" faux film Argo -- so perhaps it's only natural that THR helped Ben Affleck find the original "producer" of it.

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THR's own Bill Higgins recently located makeup artist Robert Sidell (E.T., The Waltons) -- now 75 and living in Vegas -- who had posed as the fake film's producer.

When Higgins ran into Affleck at a dinner and told him about it, the actor-director said that he'd never tracked down Sidell, thinking he was dead.

Subsequently, Warner Bros. flew Sidell to L.A. for the premiere, and Affleck referred to him from the stage.

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"It was surreal," says Sidell. "I suddenly had closure to a story that started in 1980. And I think the movie's going to get four or five Oscar nominations."

A Hollywood veteran, through and through.

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