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After Argo debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Ben Affleck tweaked the ending to add a postscript emphasizing that the freeing of six hostages in Iran was a complementary effort between the CIA and the Canadian embassy. That credit wasn’t enough for the Canadian ambassador who played a role in those 1979 events.
In interviews with multiple news outlets, former ambassador Ken Taylor stated that his countrymen aren’t receiving their due in the Hollywood adaptation — and he hopes Affleck mentions Canada if he gives an Oscar acceptance speech on Sunday.
“I would hope he would. If he doesn’t, then it’s a further reflection,” Taylor told the Associated Press. He also explained: “In general [Argo] makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride. The Canadians were brave. Period.”
Taylor also spoke with The New York Times, telling the newspaper: “It’s a great film, it’s great. But at the same time, it was a Canadian story that’s been, all of sudden, totally taken over by the Americans. Totally.”
In the film, Affleck plays CIA agent Tony Mendez, who devises a fake Star Wars-style science-fiction film as a cover to usher six hostages safely out of Iran. Taylor is played by Victor Garber.
Taylor’s critique arrives on the weekend of the Academy Awards, where Argo is nominated in seven categories and is the top contender for the best picture prize. Affleck responded in an e-mail to the Times about the criticism by mentioning that he believed the ambassador’s issues with the film had been resolved.
“To be honest, I was surprised to hear that Ken still has issues about the film as the last time we had contact was a few weeks ago when Ken asked me to narrate a documentary about the Iran hostage crisis that he is prominently featured in,” the Argo director wrote to the newspaper.
Taylor’s concerns were shared by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who diplomatically considered the film and recalled the Iran hostage crisis — which occurred during his term in office — in a Thursday CNN interview.
Carter stated that although he hoped Argo took home the best picture award, he expressed that, “Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only … in Iran a day and a half. And the main hero, in my opinion, was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.”
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