‘The Accountant’: Ben Affleck on Playing an Autistic Hero in Gavin O’Connor’s Thriller

     October 6, 2016


The Accountant is a crime drama/thriller with a very unique hero at its center. Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant and small-town CPA, who prefers to spend more time with numbers than people, which works to his advantage as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. When Christian takes on a legitimate client, in the cutting-edge company Living Robotics, a discrepancy involving millions of dollars puts his life in very serious danger. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the movie also stars Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow and Jean Smart.

During a conference at the film’s press day, actor Ben Affleck talked about the huge challenge of making this character real, deciding where he fell on the autism spectrum, whether this guy is at all like Bruce Wayne, the intense fight training, properly portraying an autistic hero, what most stood out about the people he met with during the research process, and the importance of variety in his career.

Question: What did you find to be the biggest challenge of this role, and how did you find who you wanted this guy to be?

BEN AFFLECK: It was a very challenging role and it required a lot of research. (Director) Gavin [O’Connor] and I went around and spent time with people who were at various places on the autism spectrum, and observed behavior and talked to them and engaged with them in everything from what their daily life is like to what type of movie they’d like to see about someone with autism. We got a lot of different responses, but really, the value was in grounding the guy and making him like real people we had met and seen in real life, rather than just an imagined version of what it might be. It was a cobbling together of observed behaviors and character traits from people we met. That’s what I anchored the performance in.

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