The movie Argo depicts the extraction of six embassy workers who were hiding in Iran during the hostage crisis that began in 1979. To get their expert into the country and to rescue the hiding embassy workers, the CIA created a ruse that the expert was working on a science fiction movie named "Argo" and scouting locations in Iran that might be used for filming. To make their story more believable, the CIA used a script that Hollywood had rejected.

Something that has always puzzled me is how did the unmade/fake movie get the name "Argo"? The novel on which it was to be based is called "Lord of Light" by Roger Zelazny. If the space ship in it had been named "Argo", that would have made sense. However, the name was "Star of India". Furthermore, the name "Argo" references Greek mythology, while the mythology in the book is Hindu and Buddhist. Thus the name "Argo" doesn't fit. How did the name come about?

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    Why would the title necessarily have to match the script of a fake movie that is not actually being made? Since the script got rejected, I'd guess that the title was meant to downplay the non-western aspect to try and make it more palatable for studios they pitched it to. Hollywood doesn't exactly have a great reputation for being true to the books that are the source material for their movies. Everything I've read only confirms that the fake move was titled Argo, and nothing tells why that was the chosen title. Hope someone finds something more definitive than my speculation. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:06
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    @PoloHoleSet: I get all that, but would like to know where "Argo" came from, since it seems to refer to myth of Jason and the Argonauts, which is a much different story.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:09
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    Lord of Light is an awesome novel. Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 4:48

1 Answer 1


According to this interview:

Did Tony actually use a real Hollywood script to help create the cover story?

Yes. Tony and John Chambers (John Goodman in the movie) picked the script from a pile of manuscripts that had been previously submitted to Chambers for his consideration. Based on the award-winning 1967 Roger Zelazny sci-fi novel Lord of Light, the script was in part chosen because it was complicated and hard to follow. It also celebrated Islam to a certain degree. These two attributes, coupled with the growing popularity of science fiction films following the success of Star Wars, made it an excellent choice. -CIA.gov

Where did the title "Argo" come from?

The title "Argo" that Tony and John Chambers gave to the screenplay came from Greek mythology, specifically it is the name of Jason and the Argonauts' ship that they sailed to the sacred garden to rescue the Golden Fleece from the clutches of the many-headed dragon. "This precisely described the situation in Iran," states Tony.

So, Argo was not the name of the script submitted, it was a name given to the script by the C.I.A.

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    It has been years since I read it, but to my recollection, the book doesn't doesn't say anything about Islam, so I believe it doesn't celebrate that religion. Of course, the proposed script could have done anything it wanted.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:07
  • @GreenMatt, the answer is referring to the movie script. Movies don't stay true to the books they are based on.
    – user25738
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:22
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    @SiXandSeven8ths: Correct, or - as I said in the comment to which you replied: "... the proposed script could have done anything it wanted."
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 22:22
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    The book does mention Islam once in passing. Sam revived Buddhism to compete with the official Hinduism; (I paraphrase) “I could have used [Christianity], but crucifixion hurts; and Islam doesn't interact well with Hinduism.” Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 4:44

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