You should see the movie “Argo” because— as early reviews already have noted — it’s a compelling political thriller that manages to tackle serious international issues and the absurdity of Hollywood without ever hitting a tonally off note. You also should see “Argo” because it’s the third piece of cinematic evidence that Ben Affleck is a really good director.
But if neither of those factors serves as adequate “Argo” motivation, perhaps you’ll be compelled to check out the film once you fully grasp how phenomenal its cast is, something I did not fully process until earlier this week.
Most people probably already know that Affleck plays CIA extractor Tony Mendez, and sports a truly fantastic late ‘70s haircut and beard.
If that doesn’t satisfy your craving for faces you recognize from great TV shows, please know that the Man In Black from “Lost” — otherwise known as Silas Adams from “Deadwood” or, in real life, Titus Welliver, who previously appeared in Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone” — is in it, too.
Also on board: Coach Eric Taylor, inadvertent provider of Mitt Romney talking points and Emmy Award-winning “Friday Night Lights” star Kyle Chandler, who also sports awesome late ‘70s hair (see him at far right in the picture below). He gets to play President Carter’s Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan.
But Chandler’s not the only one given some power. Victor Garber — veteran actor and friend of Affleck’s wife Jennifer Garner, thanks to his role as Sydney Bristow’s father on “Alias” — plays the role of Canadian ambassador (and harborer of Americans) Ken Taylor.
At this point we should talk about the guy standing in front of the fireplace in the photo below.
I spent several minutes trying to figure out why I recognize him but, initially couldn’t make it happen.
Basically, I was doing what Slater from “Dazed and Confused” does in this clip. And then I realized, wait, that is Slater! It’s Rory Cochrane, who co-starred in that ‘70s-set film with Affleck, and is now co-starring in another retro period piece with Affleck. This brought me immense joy.
Here’s another photo with him (left, center, still looking unrecognizable) and the other actors who play the Americans attempting to get out of Iran.
Those other actors, by the way, are: Kerry Bishe, Scoot McNairy, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham and, next to Affleck above, Tate Donovan, another longtime thespian who most people probably remember best as Jennifer Aniston’s former boyfriend, in real life and on “Friends.”
Oh, also, the wonderful Chris Messina — of many movies and TV series, including “Six Feet Under,” “The Newsroom” and now “The Mindy Project” — is a member of Affleck’s CIA in the film.
And Affleck’s partners in making a fake movie designed to help the aforementioned Americans escape from Iran are Academy Award-winner Alan Arkin (a.k.a Olive’s grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine”) and John Goodman, best known for being John Goodman in 8 million projects and always being a sheer delight. Or you can just call him Donnie in “The Big Lebowski.” Either way, when he showed up the first time, everyone at the screening I attended immediately chuckled because: Goodman!
So, in conclusion, this cast is phenomenal. I mean, not to be redundant, but: How often do you get to see Affleck, Walter White and the MIB arguing about whether bicycles should be used to save American lives?