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Ex-diplomat attends Argo première

Canada's Ken Taylor played key role in Iran hostage crisis

Hollywood's Ben Affleck and Canada's Ken Taylor will rub elbows today in the U.S. capital for the D.C. premiere of Argo, the actor's new film on 1979's Iran hostage crisis.

Affleck and Taylor are among the guests of honour at a cocktail reception at the gleaming Canadian embassy on Capitol Hill before the movie is shown at a nearby cinema.

Some of the six American diplomats rescued and sheltered by Taylor more than three decades ago will also be in attendance for both the reception and the screening.

Affleck will address the embassy reception, with U.S. Ambassador Gary Doer and other VIPs in attendance.

The actor's co-stars, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston and John Goodman of Roseanne fame, will also be on hand.

Affleck is likely to praise Taylor's role in the crisis after the former Canadian diplomat made clear his displeasure about how Canada's role was minimized in Argo - both in the events portrayed in the film and especially its original postscript.

"The movie's fun, it's thrilling, it's pertinent, it's timely," Taylor told the Toronto Star in a recent interview.

"But look, Canada was not merely standing around watching events take place. The CIA was a junior partner."

Taylor became an international hero following his success in sheltering the Americans for three months after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran in late 1979 and took dozens of diplomats hostage.

Taylor, Canada's ambassador to Iran at the time, moved the Americans around to various safe houses, and managed to secure fake Canadian passports for them from Ottawa.

Argo highlights little-known details about the escape of the six Americans. That story, declassified in 1997, reveals a risky plan by CIA "exfiltration" expert Tony Mendez to get them out of Iran.

Affleck stars as Mendez, who teams up with a Hollywood producer to concoct an elaborate scheme: the six U.S. citizens are disguised as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a fake science-fiction film called "Argo."

The original postscript to the film suggested the kudos Taylor received for his role in the real-life drama were unwarranted in light of the CIA actions.

After outraged friends took in the film at the Toronto International Film Festival last month and alerted Taylor, Affleck was soon in touch. The postscript was subsequently changed to note that the CIA "complemented efforts of the Canadian Embassy."

Argo opens in theatres Friday.