What's the Difference between Argo the Book and Argo the Movie?



Released: 1999
Author: Anthony Mendez


Released: 2012
Director: Ben Affleck
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In the Book In the Movie
Tony Mendez
Tony Mendez
Portrayed by: Ben Affleck
Julio (CIA officer with Mendez)
This Character does not appear.
Joe Calloway
This Character does not appear.
Joe Missouri
This Character does not appear.
Bob (CIA officer in Iran)
This Character does not appear.
Somchai Sriweawnetr
This Character does not appear.
John Sheardown
This Character does not appear.
Robert Anders
Robert Anders
Portrayed by: Tate Donovan
Cora Lijek
Cora Lijek
Portrayed by: Clea DuVall
Mark Lijek
Mark Lijek
Portrayed by: Christopher Denham
Joe Stafford
Joe Stafford
Portrayed by: Scoot McNairy
Kathy Stafford
Kathy Stafford
Portrayed by: Kerry Bishé
Lee Schatz
Lee Schatz
Portrayed by: Rory Cochrane
Ken Taylor
Ken Taylor
Portrayed by: Victor Garber
Argo Book vs Movie
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This Spoils the Ending
In the Book In the Movie
   Robert Anders, Cora Amburn-Lijek, Mark Lijek, Joseph Stafford and Kathleen Stafford went to Ander's apartment and hid out. Over six days this group went from home to home (including a British Residence) to hide out while lead by Thai cook, Somchai Sriweawnetr. The Staffords eventually hid out with Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor, the Lijeks and Anders stayed with Canadian Immigration officer John Sheardown. It took them until November 10th to arrive. The Embassy attack was on November 4, 1980. The six embassy workers are shown to go directly to the home of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor.
   Lee Schatz hid in the Swedish embassy and at the home of a counselor before joining the others at the Sheardown residence. He occasionally went on outings with the Swedish Embassy staff without complications. Schatz arrived at the Sheardown residence on November 22rd. A second group, including Consul General Richard Morefield fled and were quickly captured by the Iranians. Schatz was with the five other Americans when they went to the Canadain residence. Morefield, Sriweawnetr and Sheardown are not in the film.
   Mendez is happily married and has two teenage sons. Mendez is separated from his wife and has a son in grade school.
   Mendez does not find out about the “houseguests” until mid-December. He first heard about them in a memo from the State Department and thought they were settled in and safe. They initially planned to wait until after all the other hostages were released. Mendez is brought into a meeting with CIA officials to talk about ways to get the Americans out. He shoots holes in all of their ideas but has nothing better to offer.
   Mendez get the idea to use a fantastic cover story instead of a boring one for the Americans. He contacts his Hollywood friend Joe Calloway. Mendez gets an idea for the Americans to be a Canadian film crew scouting filming locations while watching Planet of the Apes. Calloway is not in the film.
   The Americans get along fine, they have lots of alcohol to drink as the Embassy was getting ready for a party. The TV is broken, Sheardown keeps them up to date on current events. The Sheardowns had frequent guests from other embassies who kept them up to date. The six Americans have trouble getting along while cooped up in the Taylor home. They watch news on the TV a lot. There were no guests from other embassies.
   NBC's Peter Jennings would come to visit at times. The owner of the Sheardown house would also bring in prospective buyers while the Americans hide in back rooms. This does not happen in the book.
   The Americans wrote letters to their families back home. Lee Schatz's mother told a local newspaper that her son was hiding in Iran. This does not happen in the film.
   When Mendez goes to the Canadian government to ask for official passports for the Americans, he finds out the passports are already being prepared. The Canadians refused to provide two passports for Mendez and another CIA officer. This does not happen in the film.
   Joe Calloway tells Mendez about a script he was pitched based on a novel call Lord of Light. They use the script and call the film Argo. Mendez is sent to LA to set up a film back story. He tells Chambers that he needs to extract six Americans from Tehran. Chambers tells Mendez they need to set up an actual production company to make the film that the Americans will be involved in.
   Mendez and his associates settle for rented office space at a Hollywood studio and a script. The publicity eventually gets a life of its own and people call for more information. Mendez selects a script called Argo that is in turnaround. Siegel and Mendez meet with Max Klien to buy the rights to produce Argo. They get the rights for $10,000. Mendez is told he has 72 hours to get the backstory ready.
   The teacher cover story is just one of the options that Mendez decides not to go with after arriving in Iran. Jack O'Donnell tells Mendez that the CIA is going with the extraction using covers as teachers for the Americans.
   This does not happen in the book. Mendez goes over this boss' head to get a meeting with top CIA officials to convince them that the film crew method is the only one that will work. Mendez is given the go-ahead.
   It is an open secret among the Canadian and American governments as well as much of the American press that there are Americans hiding in Tehran. The AP knows that six Americans escaped. The CIA is trying to get them to delay publishing the story.
   The required documents are obtained by other members of his team. Upon entry into Iran, Mendez steals blank entry forms for the six Americans to use.
   Mendez loads a Canadian diplomatic pouch with disguises and other material he needs that will be sent along with the six Canadian passports and 12 American passports. The pouch is too small for all of his material that he wants, so some is left behind. An additional six Canadian passports were sent earlier. One set of passports has forged entry/exit visas, the others are blank. Driver's licenses, credit cards and business cards and air tickets are also included. Mendez meets with Ken Taylor. He gives Mendez Canadian passports. They have no visa stamps, so Mendez will have to ink them in.
   The forged visas in the Canadian passports had the wrong date formats. Mendez uses the blank passports to ink in proper stamps. Mendez inks in visa stamps, but not because of errors in the originals.
   John and Zena Sheardown were sent back to Canada prior to the Americans leaving in preparation for shut down of the Canadian Embassy in Tehran. The Sheardowns are not in the film.
   Mendez and his team got a final authorization from President Carter while in Bonn Germany. Ken Taylor tells Mendez to burn the Canadian passports as the mission was canceled and just not to show up in the morning of the planned departure.
   Mendez talks to the Americans and they discuss if they should leave as American teachers or Canadian film crew. They decide that a they can pass better as a film crew. Joseph Stafford does not want to leave while other Americans are being held hostage. Taylor tells Mendez that he has orders to close the Embassy, so they have to leave soon. The Americans are very afraid of escaping via the airport and do not trust Mendez. Mendez gives them their cover identities and tells them to memorize and embellish them.
   This did not happen in the book. Mendez brings the Americans on an outing at a market to give them practice “being a movie crew”. It does not go well for them as they are approached by and insulted by various Iranian residents. Some of the Americans do not trust Mendez.
   This did not happen in the book. Mendez gets a call on Taylor's secure phone and told that the extraction is being canceled because the military is planning on a rescue mission.
   This did not happen. The office was shut down only after the rescue mission was complete. John Chambers, in Hollywood, is told that the mission is off and to shut down the office.
   The mission was already given the go-ahead by President Carter. Mendez calls the CIA and tells them that he is taking the Americans out of Iran. His boss is unable to get the tickets confirmed for the flight out unless he has President Carter's authorization.
   This did not happen as the airline tickets were supplied by the Canadians. Jack O'Donnell fights with his boss about the mission and tells him to call the director about the tickets. O'Donnell contacts his superiors and convinces them to confirm the air tickets for Mendez and the six Americans.
   Mendez has the Americans dress flashier so they appear like a film crew. The Americans change their appearances slightly to match their passports and not appear as themselves in case any Iranian locals know them.
   A Canadian embassy employee destroys secure equipment with a sledge hammer prior to closing the embassy. An Iranian police officer destroys Ken Taylor's secure phone right before they close down the Embassy.
   This does not happen in the book. The Canadians had already purchased the tickets; the American government had not done so. Mendez checks in at the airports and finds that he does not have reservations. At the same time the CIA pushes the tickets through and the ticketing agent then finds his reservation.
   This does not happen in the book. The Iranian officials at the airport can't find the entry documents for the Americans, but they get their passports stamped and sent along to the boarding area.
   No interrogation in the book. Mendez and the Americans go through the airport separately and only meet up near the gate. The Staffords buy a gift of caviar for Mendez. A Canadian MP sees Lee Schatz at the gate and asks him what he is doing. He is very surprised when Schatz tells him in a Canadian accent that he is flying home. Mendez and the Americans are brought to a room for interrogation prior to boarding. One of the Americans explains the plot of the Argo film to the guard questioning them. Mendez hands him a studio business Argo card to they can call to verify; the Iranian guard calls the office and is told Harkin is out of the country scouting a film.
   This did not happen in the book. The Americans flew out on a DC-8 named Aagua after a one hour delay for a mechanical problem. Some of the local security start to harass some of the passengers who are waiting, but it is not a problem. Iranian authorities finally figure out that several Americans from the Embassy are trying to leave via the airport and rush to stop them.
   Ordinary police cars cannot match the 180 mph take-off speed of a 747. Revolutionary guards break through the door at the departure gate and use several police cars to attempt to intercept the Swiss Air 747 airliner while it is taking off. They also break into the control tower to disrupt the departing airliner.
   CIA officers in Iran notify the state department in the USA about progress of the flight. The CIA has communications with the flight purser; they are informed that the Americans are safely out of the country.
   Mendez goes back home. His wife knows what he did and that he will not be publicly recognized for his actions for years. Mendez goes home to his wife and they get back together.
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