The 2012 spy drama Argo, starring Ben Affleck and based on the real-life CIA operation to exfiltrate six embassy staff trapped in Tehran following the 1979 revolution, was a big publicity boost for the agency.
In late 2012 Ben Affleck was on the promotional circuit for Argo. Naturally, this led to questions about the CIA-Hollywood connection and, in one interview, Affleck commented “Probably Hollywood is full of CIA agents, and we just don’t know it.” When he was asked if he was working for the CIA Affleck replied, “I am, yes, and now you’ve blown my cover.”
2001: Affleck’s first contact with the Agency
At the time these comments were widely interpreted as a joke, a flip response to an absurd question. But behind the scenes, Argo was supported by the CIA and Affleck had previously worked closely with the Agency when he played Jack Ryan in 2002’s The Sum of All Fears.
According to production notes for the nuclear terrorist spy thriller, then CIA-Hollywood liaison Chase Brandon arranged for Affleck to make multiple visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Brandon observed, “One of the things, I think, that benefited Ben as he walked around the agency was to simply feel the atmosphere of the place. There’s a very palpable sense of mission and importance to what goes on there, and I think Ben picked up on that simply by being in the building.”
Likewise, Affleck’s ex-wife Jennifer Garner starred in the CIA-supported series Alias, and appeared in a CIA recruitment ad after having been recruited herself for the role by Brandon.