Ben Affleck on Iran Hostage Crisis

Actor talks with Bill Weir about new film, "Argo."
3:00 | 09/28/12

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Transcript for Ben Affleck on Iran Hostage Crisis
our "person of the week." It was a red-hot crisis for 444 days, dozens of americans hold hostage in iran. But one incredible story slipped under the radar, now ben affleck is telling it. It takes place 32 years ago, just as abc's "nightline" was created to report on the hostage crisis. Tonight, "nightline" anchor bill weir goes back in time to that showdown. And the oscar goes to -- ben affleck and matt damon. Reporter: When "good will hunting" brought ben affleck a writing oscar at age 25, it was enough to turn tinseltown green. And in the coming years, critics would mock his big-budget choices. And he's the last person you'd ever expect. Reporter: Tabloids would stalk his every romantic move. But rather than flame out, affleck grew up. Settled down, poured himself into helping the people of the eastern congo and directing the kind of films that earn best picture buzz like "argo," a rousing portrayal of the top secret, real-life bravery that played out in the early days of the iran hostage crisis. Few knew that when those crowds stormed the u.S. Embassy in tehran, six americans escaped and fled to the home of the canadian ambassador. While they spent weeks hiding from the revolutionary guards, a cia agent named tony mendes hatched an insane rescue plan. He would fly them out posing as a film crew, scouting locations for a "star wars" rip-off called "argo." I'm the only thing between you and a gun to your head. Reporter: But before he would convince the frightened americans to play along, he needed hollywood to help sell the lie. You can teach someone to be a director in a day? You can teach a rhesus monkey to be a director in a day. Reporter: It is strange to think that there are genuine laughs in a story like this. But one comes from the idea that spies and hollywood producers are hustlers of a different stripe. Right? It really is true. It never would have worked if it weren't a true story. Because people have just thought there's no way the cia would be working with hollywood. Reporter: But they did, and it worked. Good evening. Day 87 and finally, a sliver of really good news. Reporter: And with the current tension with iran, the middle eastern embassies under siege, the forgotten story is now frighteningly relevant. So, it's not oversimplified, we're all great and these are all evil barbarians. It's meant to show how, you know, in this case, the kind of cold war mentality and foreign affairs has given rise to a sort of political reality now that is extremely tricky. Reporter: Since 52 hostages remained in iran after their daring exit, the cia couldn't take any glory back then. But a generation later, in theaters across america, they'll finally get their due. It's important to recognize what we're able to do and the people who are sacrificing overseas for us and that they're -- how competent and amazing they are. And so we choose ben affleck for telling the story of these heroes and that daring rescue 32 years ago. He's our "person of the week."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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