Inside the 'Argo' L.A. Premiere: Actors Downplay Awards Talk as Ben Affleck Addresses Canada Flap

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Argo announced itself Thursday as a legitimate awards contender with a well-received Los Angeles premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But the actors in the Warner Bros. film, directed by star Ben Affleck, didn't want to talk about the film's Oscar chances.

“I’m not in the prediction business,” said Alan Arkin, who won a supporting actor Oscar for 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, tersely. But what about that Oscar buzz? “Not with me. I haven’t started it.”

Agreed John Goodman: “That is totally none of my business. It’s so far out of my control that I don’t even worry about it.”

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Bryan Cranston, a three-time Emmy winner, was more political about it. “If Argo is mentioned in a group of great movies of the year, I’d be extremely proud. But I know for a fact no one goes through the process of making a movie with the intent of winning an award.”

As expected, George Clooney, one of the film’s producers, and Affleck found themselves at the center of the afterparty, even as their significant others, girlfriend Stacy Kiebler and wife Jennifer Garner, respectively, dutifully let their men be hugged and prodded by well-wishers.

Instead of the usual reception in the Academy building’s lobby, Warner Bros. opted for a lavish poolside shindig at the Beverly Hills Hotel, perhaps trying to recall the movie’s 1980 setting when movie premieres were held there. (There's also a key scene in the film that takes place at the Beverly Hills Hotel.)

Argo tells the true-life story of how CIA agent Tony Mendez (played by Affleck) enlisted Hollywood’s help to organize the extraction of six American foreign service workers holed up in the residence of the Canadian ambassador during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1980.

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Talk at the afterparty centered on how Affleck continues to grow as a director, and the event brought out A-list filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau.

“You don’t have to work with him long to realize that he’s a bonafide director,” said Cranston. “And I don’t mean, an ‘actor-turned-director,’ I mean a director. If he never had an acting career, I would still think he’s one of the best directors that I’ve ever worked with.”

Four of the six foreign service workers portrayed in the movie were in attendance; Lee Schatz, Bob Anders, Cora Lijek and Mark Lijek kept a low profile at the reception. Mendez was also there, and the 72-year-old fielded many congratulatory handshakes.

Affleck singled out the real-life subjects of the film prior to the screening, as well as Mendez’s heroism. He also made a point to thank the Canadians, mentioning that former ambassador Ken Taylor was celebrating his birthday that evening.

At the afterparty, Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter he had no qualms about altering a post-script seen at movie’s end in order to spotlight Canada’s contribution. The move was made after the film's Toronto premiere because Taylor was said to be upset that the Canadians were not given enough credit for the daring escape.

“If I was doing a movie about one family, not relevant to anything but itself, I would say, ‘This is the story I’m doing,’ " Affleck said. "But what I want, especially to those people who I consider the heroes, I want all those people to feel this [movie] honors them somewhat.”

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com

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