It was roughly 8:30 Monday morning in California following the 85th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night and Antonio “Tony” Mendez had barely been to bed.
“I feel numb,” the southern Washington County resident said during a telephone interview from the Four Seasons Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.
Mendez, whose life as a CIA agent was portrayed on the big screen by actor-director Ben Affleck in “Argo,” was still feeling the after-effects of the film’s Best Picture win.
“Argo,” which depicts Mendez’s actions in 1979 when he helped six Americans escape from Iran, also won Best Adapted Screenplay for Chris Terrio.
For the ceremony, Mendez sat beside his wife, Jonna, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. He said they were beyond excited when the Best Picture award was announced.
“We jumped up and down like young people,” he said with his trademark dry humor. “We cried.”
Terrio’s win and speech brought the first tears.
The Oscar-winning script was based on Mendez’s autobiography, “Master of Disguise,” and a Wired magazine article, “The Great Escape,” by Joshuah Bearman.
Jonna Mendez, who also is retired from the CIA, said they had breakfast with Terrio on Sunday morning.
“Chris was kind of a nervous wreck,” she said. “And he gave that great acceptance speech. He called out Tony and it made us cry.”
During his speech, Terrio said, “.... 33 years ago, Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, Tony got six people out of a bad situation.”
Later, Mendez would be thanked again by Affleck, who although not nominated for Best Director, received an Oscar for Best Picture as one of the show’s producers.
During his speech, Affleck said, “Tony Mendez, who let us do his story, thank you.”
George Clooney and Grant Heslov were also producers for the film.
“It was amazing,” Mendez said of being mentioned by Affleck. “These guys don’t have to give credit to subjects in their stories. That was above and beyond, I think. Ben was really beside himself.”
Mendez said he was disappointed that Affleck was not nominated for director, but felt there were bigger things at work.
“Somehow it was blessed,” he said.
After the Oscars, Mendez and his wife followed Hollywood tradition and accepted invitations to the after parties, including the Governor’s Ball, a soiree hosted annually by the academy.
“We were following George Clooney’s trail and we finally caught up with him,” Mendez said.
Mendez 'numb' by success of 'Argo' at 85th Academy Awards
Washington County resident's story told in film awarded Oscar for best picture
Antonio "Tony" Mendez (File photo / February 25, 2013)