Christian Wolff is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA (Certified Public Accountant) office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations.
The title character is played by Ben Affleck. At first glance, Christian Wolff seems to be nothing more than a storefront CPA, right down to his spreadsheets and pocket protector. However, his clientele are among the world’s most powerful crime lords, and his mild-mannered demeanour and somewhat innocuous appearance belie the fact that he may be more dangerous than any of them.
Ben Affleck noted, “The story speaks to the duality in all of us. It might be easy to pigeonhole a guy like Chris, but we find out he’s capable of much more than you imagine.”
Explaining further, Affleck revealed there is another unexpected wrinkle to Christian, which attracted him to the role. “On the one hand, he’s this effectively trained fighter and on the other, he’s a mathematics savant. Those facets of his personality—seemingly at odds in him—were unlike anything I’ve ever done before and made it both exciting and challenging.”
Helming The Accountant is Gavin O’Connor, from a screenplay by Bill Dubuque (The Judge). Previously known for films such as Warrior, O’Connor found the script compelling: “When people have secrets—when you think someone is one thing and then discover they’re something else entirely.”
“The centre point of the film was this fascinating character that I loved and wanted to explore. ‘How did he become this man? How did he get those skills? How did he become this lethal fighter?’ The story has intertwining puzzles, which gave it a high IQ factor and made it especially intriguing.”
We certainly loved the idea that an accountant, so often seen as a mundane profession, is anything but that in this film. For The Accountant, O’Connor centred on the form of autism that Affleck’s character has.
O’Connor emphasized: “We learned the term ‘spectrum’ is especially fitting because there is really no single type of autism; every person is an individual and at a different place on that spectrum. Christian is fictional and not based on anyone in real life—his remarkable aptitude for figures is a gift and his physical attributes are a product of his unique upbringing.”
Affleck and his co-star Anna Kendrick were both fans of O’Connor’s work.
Affleck said: “I’d seen Gavin’s work on Warrior and Miracle, and in both of those movies I saw tremendous integrity in the performances. I thought, ‘This is a director who doesn’t let a false note land in his films.’ I knew The Accountant needed that kind of unflinching eye to capture the complexity and the nuances and ground it in reality. At the end of the day, I was so glad he directed this movie because amidst the incredible action, he imbued it with authenticity, originality, humanity and heart. I loved working with him.”
Kendrick, who stars as a junior accountant, Dana Cummings, says she especially appreciated the director’s “reverence for the emotional content,” noting: “It’s an interesting thing because, in many ways, Gavin is such a dude. He and Ben would get so excited about all the action sequences, but then he also took such joy in the really sweet, emotional scenes.”
Also joining Affleck and Kendrick is Oscar winner JK Simmons. Cast as the head of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, Ray King, and it was the role that sealed the deal for him.
“What fascinated me about Ray is that he’s this real alpha male when we meet him and then, as the story develops, we find different aspects to him, as we do with most of the characters. It adds a lot of depth and some surprises.”
The Accountant is jam-packed full of character and drama, and is brimming with surprises too.
The Accountant opens at Showcase on November 4.