Ben Affleck doesn’t see a lot of similarities between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Christian Wolff, the number cruncher — and also ass-kicker — he plays in “The Accountant.” But if pressed, he has an answer: “Same chin,” he replies, joking about one of his most famous features.
In the thriller, Affleck plays an autistic man who became not just an accountant, but an accountant with ties to the mafia and other fearful clients. His work has aroused suspicion by the feds (including one played by J.K. Simmons), who want to bring him in. But Christian isn’t going quietly; he’s a man of mystery and rather good with a gun, as well as a fist.
As a thriller about a private man of action, “The Account” is superficially similar to some of his recent movies, notably his current stint as Batman, so far seen in “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad.” But it’s different enough for Affleck’s tastes.
“I’m not much of a tactician when it comes to what a career should look like,” Affleck says during a press conference. “It’s more about projects that interest and move me. Part of that is variation. You could become bored doing the same thing over and over again. This keeps me activated and engaged.”
One thing that’s different is the fight scenes. With Batman, Affleck could defer to a stuntman, since Bruce Wayne tends to keep his mask on when not pummeling goons (or Superman). Not in “The Accountant.”
“It’s a lot harder for the stuntman to do your stunt when you’re not wearing a mask,” he explains. “I had to really be on top of my game and work hard with some really great professionals who were really good at educating me about this fighting style. It was a learning experience.”
“The Accountant” also touches on the perils of parenting. Chris was raised by a father who didn’t want him to go to a school for autistic children. Instead he taught his son how to fight, leading him to a life outside the law.
“That’s what I thought was the most heartbreaking part of the story,” Affleck reveals. “As a parent, I face dilemmas every day. What’s the right way to raise children? Every moment there’s a crossroad; there’s a lot of choices you can make. We all make mistakes, for sure. We try our best. As they say, when you have kids, all of a sudden your heart is outside your body. All of a sudden you feel vulnerable. This fear of a child being vulnerable is really powerful.”
Still, he understands, on some level, why Chris’ dad thought his delicate son needed to learn how to fight.
“He does it out of love and compassion and fear for his son — and he ends up brutalizing him,” Affleck says. “It’s really interesting to look at what’s the appropriate way to channel these intense emotions we have as parents. It’s not easy.”
And at least he didn’t have to direct. Affleck’s third film as director, the crime drama “Live by Night,” arrives in January, and he’s helming the next Batman movie, currently titled simply “The Batman,” himself. But he still likes working for others.
“As an actor, movies are all about the director. I’ve learned that, finally,” he says, chuckling. “When you work with a director you’re on his or her ship. Your job is to be creative, but to fulfill this person’s vision.” And there’s an extra perk: “The nice thing about acting is once the set falls down you can just go back to your trailer. So many things are not my problem!”
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