“Argo” may center on the odd, real-life conceit of a CIA agent using a fake movie to cover the escape of Iran hostages, but the real magic happens whenever supporting players John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston appear on screen.

“It felt exceptional,” says Goodman, who plays make-up artist John Chambers. “It was one of those jobs where everybody is so good it’s actor-proof.”

Goodman and Arkin, who plays the faux movie’s real producer, provide much of the comic relief in the film. The duo also deftly delivers tense moments when it appears they may miss a vital phone call.

“(Arkin) can’t strike a false note in life or on the screen,” Goodman says. “He’s bright, witty and so damn funny. It shows in his performance.”

Although Goodman didn’t have any scenes with Cranston, who plays Affleck’s boss with both humor and dramatic tautness, he was mesmerized by the work of Cranston and other supporting players.

“I was on the edge of my seat, and I knew how it was going to end,” says Goodman, laughing.

Goodman admired Affleck’s chops as a producer, writer and director in “Gone Baby Gone” and wanted to be part of this project. Even though he was unfamiliar with the Iran caper, he knew about Chambers’ legacy in Hollywood.

“He had a great reputation in town, and everyone spoke well of him, but I didn’t know he lived a double life,” Goodman says. “He was a genial man, and what he was doing was crucial in a life-and-death situation.”

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