By Alex Fees
St. Louis (KSDK) - Ben Affleck stars and directs the new Warner Brothers movie Argo which was released nationwide Friday.
Argo is the name CIA officials gave to a fake science fiction movie during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.
The movie portrays a mission led by CIA Operative Tony Mendez to rescue six Americans who fled to the Canadian Embassy on the day radical Islamic demonstrators invaded the American Embassy.
The movie stars Affleck, Afton native John Goodman, Brian Cranston, and Alan Arkin.
Franklin County native and former U.S. Marine Rocky Sickmann was there. While the so-called Canadian "houseguests" would be rescued before a few months would pass, Sickmann and 52 other Americans would remain held captive for 444 days.
Sickmann said he learned about Argo about 15 months ago, when somebody introduced him to the casting director. Next thing he knew, Sickmann and his son, aspiring actor and CBC graduate Spencer Sickmann, were on their way to the set to meet Ben Affleck.
"The scene ended they asked me to come out and Ben stops the whole set, 50 to 60 people. And Ben says, 'Everybody this movie is about the Iranian hostages and it just so happens that we have one of them with us here today. Sgt. Sickmann,'" said Sickmann.
He said he and his son witnessed another scene that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
"It was the CIA scene that was being setup," he said. "And in this were 40 to 50 people working away, acting like they were answering phones, doing typing. And people are hanging cameras, hanging mikes. So I said, 'Spencer, check out the television.' It was an old 1979 television set. And there's a picture of me being held hostage on it. And I look at my son, now 20, and I said, 'What are the chances?' And as I'm saying this Ben Affleck walks up and hugs me and says, 'Rocky thanks for coming out,'" he said.
Affleck invited Sickmann's family to the movie premieres, including the one in Hollywood.
"Last week was the red carpet premiere in L.A," said Sickmann. "You met the actors, all of them, and they unveiled the movie."
He spoke in particular about John Goodman.
"I was at the Canadian Embassy last night at a little black tie event with him; we were up on the roof looking at the capitol," he said.
Sickmann said he wishes U.S. Marines at the American Embassy in Iran would have been allowed to defend themselves with force. Instead, an actor portraying Sickmann in the movie can be seen firing tear gas into the demonstrators invading the embassy.
"Many people talk about the first war on terrorism," he said. "And you look back on the day of November 4th, 1979, when Iran attacked our American embassy. It's really an act of war. But we didn't go to war. Instead we negotiated, and we and the houseguests did get out. But by negotiating with Iran, that country has continued to negotiate their next ordeal which was the Iran Contra affair. And they found Terry Anderson, and Father Lawrence Jenco. And they wanted arms to fight Iraq."
Sickmann said because of decisions made by U.S. Government officials in 1979, the world is dealing with Islamic radicalism today.
"The message is if there is an American Embassy, that country you're in has to provide protection. When you see the movie, they were chanting 'Death to America.' A Muslim is not born with 'Death to America,' they are taught that. And the sad thing is in 1979 they were teaching the young, 'Death to America.' They've never been to America; they've never met an American. But they were taught that."
Argo premiered in St. Louis Tuesday night at Ronnie's 20.