Ken Taylor helps write new ending to Ben Affleck's Argo
Critics say film underplayed Canada's role in getting American hostages out of Iran in 1979
There's a new ending to the movie Argo, which tells the story of how Canada helped Americans escape from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis.
After the film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, friends and supporters of former ambassador Ken Taylor expressed dismay that Argo had minimized the Canadian role.
In response, director Ben Affleck picked up the phone to speak to Taylor and asked how to make things right.
As a result there’s a new postscript to the film, drafted by Taylor himself.
It reads: "The involvement of the CIA complemented efforts of the Canadian Embassy to free the six held in Tehran. To this day the story stands as an enduring model of international co-operation between governments."
At the world premiere for Argo in Toronto, Affleck said at red carpet interviews that his film was about "our gratitude about how the Canadians helped us escape, get our people out of Tehran."
But when audiences got their first glimpse, what they saw was American CIA agent Tony Mendez as the hero. The film ended with a postscript that implied Canadians took credit for the rescue before the CIA's role was revealed.
Maclean’s film reviewer Brian D. Johnson was among the viewers who saw that as a "massive insult."
"When Hollywood stumbles in with this well-intentioned piece of entertainment based on a true story and they trample on a legend like Ken Taylor and they launch it at the Toronto International Film Festival, and they're completely blindsided by the response," he said. "What do they think? That nobody's going to notice?"
Taylor himself wasn't invited to the premiere, but soon heard from friends how his role was minimized.
Then he heard by telephone from Affleck, who said he’d heard there were "some issues" with the movie.
Taylor was flown to Hollywood where he finally saw Argo, with actor Victor Garber playing the role of the Canadian ambassador.
"[You] always like to see yourself as a mini superman. In this case, I think Canada’s role was underplayed. It was more passive than assertive," Taylor said.
With reshoots out of the question, Affleck agreed to change the postscript. The new version, drafted by Taylor, stresses the CIA "complemented" Canadian efforts.