Edward James Olmos has called out Ben Affleck for playing Mexican-American hero Tony Mendez in the Oscar winning 2012 film Argo.
The Best Picture winner is based on the true story of how the CIA operative orchestrated a covert operation to rescue six US hostages from Tehran, Iran, in 1979.
But the Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner actor believes that Affleck, who also co-wrote and directed Argo, too, should have cast a Mexican American actor of the part of Mendez, as Affleck is white.
“When they have made movies about Latinos, ‘our heroes,’ say like Tony Mendez in Argo? Ben Affleck played Tony Mendez. He should never have played Tony Mendez.”
“He was the director and he should’ve either gotten Michael Pena, or Andy Garcia, or myself, Jimmy Smits, any one of a multitude of people that can handle those roles,” Olmos told Deadline, before then dismissing Affleck’s assertion that they wouldn’t have made Argo if he wasn’t in the lead role.
“Bull***. He was directing it, he wrote it. It won the best film of the year Academy Award, so what are you talking about? Tony Mendez was a Chicano, a Mexican American, born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Now, 99% of the people don’t even know that."
Olmos rightfully insists that it is vital that the American film industry does better with representation and increases the diversity in its movies, rather than continuing to whitewash stories.
“The industry has to start to put out images of stories told through the perspective of your lead character being a female or a male of minority cultural dynamic, whether it be Asian. Indigenous people need it badly. Asians need it badly. Their participation in this country is overwhelming.”