PHOTOS: Tony Mendez, the Inspiration for 'Argo,' Drops by Middlesex Community College

Tony Mendez, the CIA officer who serves as the inspiration for the Academy Award-nominated film 'Argo,' delivered a presentation to students at Middlesex Community College on Feb. 13.


Former CIA agent Tony Mendez holds only one grudge toward the movie "Argo," being that director and lead actor Ben Affleck wasn't quite good-looking enough to play him on the big screen. 

Mendez, whose efforts in formulating and executing the plan to bring six American hostages held in Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis back to the United States inspired "Argo," delivered a multimedia presentation on the ordeal to Middlesex Community College students Wednesday morning. 

Mendez delivered the presentation alongside his wife, Jonna Hiestand Mendez, another former CIA officer.

Hiestand Mendez, an expert at the CIA in disguising both people and documents, said the problem with attempting to extract six American diplomats from Iran was twofold. 

"The fact that they were a group and that they were civilians, that's what we call non-CIA people, was a problem," Hiestand Mendez said. 

According to Mendez, ideas were tossed around at the CIA for disguising the group as teachers or nutritionists, but none seemed strong enough to convince Iranian authorities.

"I was thinking instead of trying to hide them, why not have them out in the open," Mendez said. 

As the film details, Mendez disguised himself and the six hostages as an American film crew out on a scouting trip for the non-exist ant film, "Argo." 

"One was the script writer, one was the logistic transportation person, one was the banker, they all had jobs, they all had credits and movies they had worked on," Hiestand Mendez said. "What each one of them received was a portfolio of their new personality."

Both Mendez and Hiestand Mendez said they were more than pleased with the job Affleck did bringing Mendez's story to the silver screen. 

"We both think Ben has made a great movie, really one for the ages," Hiestand Mendez said. "It doesn't even matter anymore if it wins, it's just such a great movie."

Mendez and Hiestand Mendez will both be in attendance at the 85th Academy Awards on Feb. 24 where Argo is nominated in seven categories, and Mendez said they will be pulling for both Affleck and the film. 

"Jonna said we don't have a dog in the fight, but our dog is Ben," Mendez said. 


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