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February 26th, 2013
10:36 PM ET

Tony Mendez on "Argo" winning at the Oscars: "Nothing I ever did in the service was as scary as that moment"

On Sunday evening, the cast and crew of the hit film "Argo" celebrated atop tinsel town, basking in the glow of an Oscar trophy that crowned their movie the best of the year. Tonight, 48 hours later, Piers Morgan welcomed the people responsible for bringing the gritty real life tale to Hollywood's silver screen.

Having lived the story first hand as an officer, Tony Mendez went on to pen the book "Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History," on which the Ben Affleck-led project is based. Joining the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host in studio, he described his feelings while waiting to hear the results late Sunday night:

"It was beyond belief," admitted the author of four non-fiction books, who now works full-time as an artist. "It was an emotional reaction, it was amazing. Nothing I ever did in the service was as scary as that moment. But it also had the high as well as the low."

Seated alongside her husband, Jonna Mendez reflected on the emotions tied to nearly half a decade of work:

"It was five years pretty much from beginning to end," said Mendez, herself a former CIA agent as well. "At the end, we cried when we won. We cried when Chris Terrio [who wrote the screenplay] won. I think we cried the first time we saw the movie. The whole thing has just been an emotional roller coaster, but a good one. Can't wait to see it again and see if we just keep crying. It was something. It was unexpected."

In writing the book, Mendez joined with Matt Baglio, who adressed criticism regarding various historical inaccuracies within the film:

"It's a movie. I think people understand that. It's not a documentary. Hollywood movies tend to take liberty with the facts," he noted, speaking with Morgan via satellite. "One of the reasons why Tony and I wanted to write this book was because we wanted to get the real story out there. The movie focuses more on Tony's side of events. Real life, of course, the Canadians were instrumental in taking in the Americans when nobody else really would. That's also portrayed in the film. There are a couple things that are different in real life. But on the whole, I think emotionally, the tone of the film, I think they did a pretty good job."

Watch the clip, and listen to the interviews, for insight, context, and background about the real life story that turned itself into an Academy Award winner.
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soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. renegade98

    I remember this hostage innocent very well. As a dual citizen of both Canada and the US, the name I remember was Canadian Ken Taylor. I think all were heroes, but in Canada Ken Taylors name was in the media a lot.

    February 26, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bob mchugh

    I am proud of the "stand " you are taking on gun control....the "Argo" interview was just , well, B.S. You did nothing to tell the world the REAL story. In fact , you listened to absolute lies and did nothing. I didn't expect that from you.
    Canadians and British ( Irish, Scots, Australian, French, Polish, etc... etc.) folk are sick of the American versions of truth....ask any WW2 VET. Our folk don't have to lie about what we have done , we just go do it . No wonder the U.S. is in such deep trouble. Lies do not build character, or a country.

    February 27, 2013 at 1:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Janet Stubbs

      You took the words right out of my mouth! Piers turns more American by the day. I wonder how he feels when the Americans claim they saved Britain during WWII. I'm sure his brother, the Colonel,is properly perturbed! Well that's how I feel about all of this crap with Argo. Pure, full-fledged, narcissistic, American crap!

      February 27, 2013 at 8:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • renegade98

      I watched Escape from Tehran." Makes the facts very clear. Many in America are okay with rewriting history in their favor. It has and will always be this way and it's not only in America. Those of us who think critically and are willing to research the facts are not fooled by Hollywood or the government.

      February 27, 2013 at 10:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kurt from Idaho

    Bob,why would you blame awhole country for the acts of a few Hollywood Morons. Don't you realize they aspire to be Canadians. Your whole country seems to be suffering a severe case of shortman's complex. Maybe the Canadian film industry should make it's own version of the events. Anyway thanks for sending us the talents of such great Canadians like Pam Anderson and Shania Twain. Real artists!

    February 27, 2013 at 2:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Janet Stubbs

      We did make our own ACCURATE film called "Escape from Tehran". An excellent docudrama. Oh, and Shania Twain is only there for the money, but you can keep Pam Anderson!

      February 27, 2013 at 8:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Heather Figueroa

        ROFL!! I can't believe anyone other than an American would think Pam Anderson is a Canadian artist!! Blinded by the fake boobs, I guess.

        Try Celine Dion, Paul Anka, Lorne Green, Jim Carrey, etc. Even Shania Twain......but not Pam Anderson

        February 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Liz

    Argo was released by warner bros, the same parent company as CNN. That may help explain why CNN is perpetuated the untruths being told by mendez in the movie, and on CNN tv interviews.

    February 27, 2013 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • renegade98

      It's unfortunate that those of us in America cannot just move under our own steam and reputation, but we seem to need to change the history in our favor. I guess it's 'We"ll take what we can get, anyway we can get it."

      February 27, 2013 at 10:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Carleen Kress

        Kudos to renegade98! The first American that I have heard make a statement like that! Truly Refreshing!!

        February 27, 2013 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. BullyBear

    My word,,,name a movie that does not take liberties. "Braveheart" was historically inaccurate, won every major award, and nobody was up in arms. Need I go on, "Troy" with Brad Pitt made Patroclus portayed as his cousin, and NOT the gay lover he was....fact is if you depend on Hollywood to provide you with truths then it is YOU that are the moron.

    February 27, 2013 at 11:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Janet Stubbs

    Yes Bully Bear, but I don't recall anyone promoting those films as the fully factual stories, or taking credit that is not theirs to take. Only morons do that!! By the way, your name says it all.

    February 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jan

    The real hero was Ken Taylor's wife. She is the one who got the airplane tickets at great risk since she was neither a Canadian citizen nor did she have diplomatic immunity. She had the most to lose if caught. On the other hand, the CIA messed up the Canadian passport forgeries. They didn't know that the Iranian calendar started in March. So the hostages would have left before they arrived. Thank heavens the Canadian were there to save the day when they noticed the mistake.

    February 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jb

    Why don't you have a place to post comments about the interview on air? Even though I am 100% in favor of gun control, listening to Piers Morgan continue to badger the other person, who is actually civil and calm, makes Piers look out of control and extraordinarily rude. His manner is so irritating that I am more inclined to want to know what the guests comments are.

    February 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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