As an actor who is no stranger to the realm of cinematic superheroes and their franchises, Ben Affleck's "The Accountant" is a movie of a different ilk for the star. This is because "The Accountant" is the first Hollywood movie to base it's central storyline on the idea that being autistic could imbue a person with special abilities that would make them not only different but much better than the average person when it comes to fighting crime. Considering the depth and authenticity that director Gavin O’Connor and writer Bill Dubuque have exhibited in the making of this crime and action drama, it’s a small wonder that no one thought to make this cinematic leap before now.
For Ben Affleck, this conceptual movie ‘first’ was a major impetus when it came to his desire to play the thriller's lead character Chris Wolff, aka the accountant. "It's definitely the most complicated and interesting character that I have ever played," stated an unabashedly honest Affleck during a meeting with AHH and other members of the press at the Four Season's Hotel in Beverly Hills alongside director Gavin O'Connor and co-stars J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson.
"I think it's a good thing selling the idea that different can be good, it can be better, it can be special," explained Affleck, adding the cast and crew’s aim in crafting a riveting movie about an unusual hero. "The main thing we wanted to do was be respectful and be accurate and tell a truthful story. Not try to sex it up or gloss over things."
To the job of making Wolff a “truthful” superhero who could rival more conventional superheroes such as Affleck's own Batman in "Batman vs. Superman" without losing it’s soul, both O'Connor and Affleck put together an autistic “classroom” of sorts, comprised solely of individuals on the autism spectrum. The results were as unexpected as they were eye opening:
“What struck me was how funny, how much wit people who had Asperger's had. There was an enormous amount of laughs and conversations,” said Affleck. Continuing, he said, Tthe people we met, they all had very complicated situations and complicated lives. Some limitations, some abilities with things that many other (non autistic) people couldn't do. There was an amazing spectrum of special gifts that we found.”
Director O’Connor, took creative long view: “Our GPS was just how would Chris honestly behave? It was the small details of behavior that we were going after. It is a movie about connection. We had to be accurate and truthful…. And we asked a lot of questions.”
As another interesting complication? Not only is Affleck's character a mathematical genius, but due to a very compelling backstory graphically revealed in the movie, O'Connor organically decided that Wolff would be a master in the strategically brutal martial art of Pentaksilat. " It felt like Chris would just want to eliminate people as efficiently and as quickly as possible in a mathematical way, " director O'Connor stated. "Ben trained every single day learning how to fight Pentaksilat. It's an Indonesian style of fighting. I guess we just geeked out on it. It was fun," remarked O'Connor with a contented smile.
“The Accountant,” starring Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor opens in theaters nationwide on October 14, 2016.