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

Alan Arkin, left, who plays a Hollywood producer in "Argo," with director-star Ben Affleck
Alan Arkin, left, who plays a Hollywood producer in "Argo," with director-star Ben Affleck
 Warner Bros. Pictures

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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