“Argo – the film based on CIA agent Antonio “Tony” Mendez’s rescue of six hostages in 1979 Iran - may be up for “Best Picture” at Sunday night’s Oscars, but the film hasn’t proved a winner with former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, who has criticized director Ben Affleck for downplaying Canada’s role in the covert mission.
In fact, should Affleck receive the coveted gold statue for his film, Taylor says he hopes the “Good Will Hunting” actor will take the time to thank Canada during his acceptance speech.
“I would hope he would. If he doesn’t then it’s a further reflection,” Taylor told the Associated Press in an interview. “In general [Argo] makes it seem like the Canadians were just along for the ride. The Canadians were brave. Period.”
Taylor earned a reputation as a hero both in the United States and Canada after he kept the six American hostages safe at his home and then under his deputy John Sheardown in Tehran. He also worked with the CIA to keep the the cover story of a film production a secret.
The critique comes as a surprise to Affleck, who released a statement Friday night stating that he thought any issues regarding the film’s portrayal of Canada’s part in the mission resolved.
“I admire Ken very much for his role in rescuing the six houseguests. I consider him a hero. In light of my many conversations as well as a change to an end card that Ken requested I am surprised that Ken continues to take issue with the film,” Affleck explained in the statement. “I spoke to him recently when he asked me to narrate a documentary he is prominently featured in and yet he didn’t mention any lingering concerns. I agreed to do it and I look forward to seeing Ken at the recording.”
News of Taylor’s critique follows controversy regarding Affleck – a non-Latino – portraying Mendez in the film.
“You know, I obviously went to Tony and sought his approval…was the first thing. And Tony does not have, I don’t know what you would say, a Latin/Spanish accent, of any kind really, and… you know you wouldn’t necessarily select him out of a line of ten people and go ‘This guy’s Latino,’” said Affleck in a statement to the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA). “So I didn’t feel as though I was violating some thing, where, here’s this guy who’s clearly ethnic in some way and it’s sort of being whitewashed by Ben Affleck the actor. I felt very comfortable that if Tony was cool with it, I was cool with it.”
And while critics may agree to disagree when it comes to the film – which has already scooped up wins at this year’s Screen Actors Guild and British Academy Film Awards – others, like comedian George Lopez, seem to have taken taken a more humorous approach to the controversy.
“‘Argo’ is an amazing movie,” Lopez said on an appearance on “CBS This Morning” Friday. “Ben Affleck, clearly our finest Latino actor right now.”
Joking aside however, Lopez will be rooting for “Argo” to win big at the 85th Annual Academy Awards.
“But for Ben Affleck to carry the banner for Latinos, I’m hoping that he does win (the Oscar). I’m pulling for him,” said Lopez on the weekday morning show. Then joking about Affleck’s highly critized 2003 film with Jennifer Lopez, he added “Listen, the dude did ‘Gigli.’ We should all know that in life redemption can happen.”