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Alan Arkin Aboard Argo

Ben Affleck's new hostage drama

Now that he’s committed to a new directorial project – hostage crisis drama Argo – Ben Affleck is starting to gather a cast. And he’s picked a winner from the off, with Little Miss Sunshine’s Alan Arkin the first to enter talks for the film.

Arkin will be playing Lester Siegel, a Hollywood producer who just happens to be a veteran of the O.S.S., the forerunner to today’s CIA. The film finds him helping the agency with a tricky true-life problem: how to rescue six US diplomats who were taken hostage at the American embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The US and Canadian governments worked with the organisation to craft fake filmmaking identities for the six trapped individuals, under the cover story that they were actually just scouting locations for a planned sci-fi movie.

Chris Terrio wrote the script, which is adapted from Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 Wired article How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Film to Rescue Americans From Tehran. Warner Bros. is providing the financial backing, with George Clooney and Grant Heslov producing via their Smoke House Productions company. There’s no word on when Affleck will start shooting, but given that he had to skip Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby to focus on the film, we expect it’ll gear up shortly.