It’s no secret that Massachusetts native Ben Affleck loves Boston. After all, “Good Will Hunting” — the film that put him and Matt Damon on the Hollywood map — was set there, as were his first two directorial efforts, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town.”
But the actor-director’s latest film, “Argo,” out Friday, takes the 40-year-old far from New England: all the way to Middle East.
“I wanted to get as far away as I could from Boston crime,” Affleck explained on the red carpet at the premiere of “Argo” in Beverly Hills last week. “I was really worried that if I did one more of those, I’d kind of be stuck there in carbon freeze doing Boston crime movies for the rest of my life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I have other stories that I want to tell. I got as far away as I could. I went from Boston to Tehran.”
“Argo” is based on the true story of a CIA specialist who rescued six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. The film has received rave critical reviews on the fall festival circuit and is already being buzzed about as a best picture contender at next year’s Academy Awards. In fact, the “Argo” premiere was held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ headquarters, where Affleck stood flanked by two life-size gold Oscar statuettes to introduce the film.
According to Affleck, the appeal of the film is that it’s an entertaining spy thriller that is also “about things that are really relevant to all of our lives right now.”
“Not in a kind of eat-your-medicine sort of way,” he explained on the carpet, “but in a ‘I’ve kind of been thrilled and laughed and been blown away’ way.”
As for his directorial skills, the filmmaker’s costars said Affleck has easily made the transition from actor to director.
“He does it with a great aplomb, and he’s extraordinarily comfortable on both sides of the camera,” said Alan Arkin, who plays a quirky Hollywood film executive. “I was scared when I [directed a film].
“He seems much more comfortable with it than I do.”