The Accountant.Web Site
Oscar winner Ben Affleck (“Argo,” upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”) stars in the title role of “The Accountant,” from director Gavin O’Connor (“Miracle,” “Pride and Glory,” “Warrior”).
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.
“The Accountant” also stars Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air,” “Into the Woods”), Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash,” the “Spider-Man” films), Jon Bernthal (“Fury,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”), Jean Smart (TV’s “Fargo,” “24”), and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (“Star Trek: Into Darkness”), with Jeffrey Tambor (TV’s “Transparent,” “The Hangover” films) and two-time Oscar nominee John Lithgow (“Interstellar,” “Terms of Endearment,” “The World According to Garp”).
O’Connor directed the film from a screenplay by Bill Dubuque (“The Judge”). The film was produced by Mark Williams and Lynette Howell, with O’Connor, Jamie Patricof and Marty Ewing serving as executive producers.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey (“Anna Karenina,” “Atonement,” upcoming “Pan”), production designer Keith Cunningham, Oscar-nominated editor Richard Pearson (“United 93”), costume designer Nancy Steiner, and Oscar-nominated composer Mark Isham (“Warrior,” “A River Runs Through It”).
Warner Bros. Pictures presents an Electric City Entertainment/Zero Gravity Management Production, a Gavin O’Connor Film, “The Accountant.” The film is slated for release worldwide beginning October 7, 2016.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While the stunt team was training cast members, O’Connor was prepping the movie with his creative team. The director offers, “I went through the script multiple times with my cinematographer, Seamus McGarvey, and production designer, Keith Cunningham. We had to make sure we were on the same page with regard to the look, the feel, the tone, and the palette. All your narrative elements have to be functioning in a very synchronistic way, so the three of us together created the visual style.”
“The Accountant” was filmed in and around Atlanta, Georgia, where the filmmakers utilized a number of locations, as well as a soundstage in nearby Decatur. One of the main sets built on the stage was the interior of Christian Wolff’s moveable home: a sleek, silver Airstream trailer kept secreted away in a huge storage locker.
Cunningham details, “It was a complicated build because we needed to keep the interior true to scale—super compact and efficient—but everything had to be movable to allow for cameras and lighting setups. The trailer home exemplifies quality and comfort, with fine finishes, handcrafted details and warm, soothing tones. Everything also appears pristine and perfectly organized in keeping with Chris’s need for order.”
Affleck attests, “Chris is someone who has difficulty with chaos and has to have things ordered in a certain way, and his personal space reflects that. Keith really had to take that into account when creating his environment and I thought he nailed it. The Airstream trailer has everything in the world that’s important to Chris and—more importantly in his line of work—he can hook it up to his truck and disappear in five minutes. It was such a cool thing that I actually turned the Airstream into my own personal trailer,” he smiles.
The tools of Chris’s trade are neatly stored in the Airstream, including an assortment of high-powered weapons, multiple passports and a small fortune in cash, gold and foreign currencies. There are also the spoils of his dealings with some extremely wealthy clientele, including priceless works by Renoir and Pollock, as well as rare collectibles and other treasures.
“The set decorator, Douglas Mowat, put a lot of thought into every little detail of Chris’s home, which is a mix of the nerdy and the dangerous,” says Cunningham.
The actual Airstream Chris owns is, in and of itself, another of his rare collectibles. Cunningham verifies, “That specific model is not easy to find. It is a custom-build and very few were ever made.” After an extensive search, the production finally found the prized Airstream in Texas, and it was fortunately in perfect condition.
To divert prying eyes, Chris keeps a separate home that was crafted as a total departure from his trailer. To the casual observer, the modest, sparsely furnished ranch-style house offers no indications of his real life, though, upon closer examination, it does hold a few clues, including a sophisticated surveillance system and defensive armaments. Similarly, Cunningham designed ZZZ Accounting—the small-town accounting office Chris uses as a front—to be as nondescript as possible so as not to draw any undue attention. A house in the neighborhood of Conyers, Georgia, stood in for the home, while a small strip mall in the city of Roswell became the site of ZZZ Accounting.
The campus of Georgia Tech served as the location for the ultra-modern headquarters of Living Robotics, with its centerpiece being a large conference room with glass walls that become Chris’s canvas. Cunningham explains, “His ‘artwork’ is comprised of colliding red and black numbers. It was no easy task to find an all-glass conference room, but it was worth it because the glass ‘box’ gave Gavin and Seamus more options to shoot those scenes.”
The production enlisted the expertise of an accounting professor from Georgia Tech to generate myriad number formulas befitting a large, multi-million-dollar corporation. Cunningham’s team then had the painstaking job of filling the clear walls with thousands of figures “as if Christian Wolff had been writing them all night,” he says. “Ben provided us with a sample of his ‘hasty’ handwriting, which we customized and digitally reproduced. We then printed rolls of clear static-cling vinyl—glass wallpaper, if you will—and hung it in stages as the scene progressed. We also left blank areas for Ben to write in ‘live’ as we shot. It was truly one of the biggest design challenges of the entire film.”
A mansion in an upscale Atlanta suburb was used as the exterior of Lamar Blackburn’s luxurious home. Its multi-leveled interior, mirroring the same contemporary design as his company, was constructed on the soundstage.
The Gwinnett Jail in Lawrenceville, Georgia, doubled as Leavenworth, where Christian Wolff is schooled in the fine art of black money accounting by Tambor’s Francis Silverberg. The interior of the Treasury offices were located inside Atlanta’s Academy of Medicine. A farm near
Bishop, Georgia, became the rural home of Frank and Dolores Rice, where Chris temporarily finds a welcoming home away from home.
Like Christian’s inconspicuous ranch house, his wardrobe was conceived to allow the character to hide in plain sight. Costume designer Nancy Steiner says, “The most important thing was that he not stand out, so his clothes were more about being subtle than making any kind of statement. When he’s at his house or at the Rice farm, he wears a Carhartt jacket, like he’s an ‘everyman.’ At work, he wears a plain suit and we decided he would always wear a white shirt. We changed out the ties, but they’re very understated. The exception is when he knows he’s walking into a fight. Then he wears tactical gear, all in black.”
Steiner designed Anna Kendrick’s costumes to showcase a subtle change in her character as the story progresses. She illustrates, “There is an arc from the first time we see her in the office, where she is pretty conservatively dressed. But her clothes get a little more feminine and flirty to show her as wanting to be noticed more.”
When filming wrapped, O’Connor reunited with composer Mark Isham, with whom he had collaborated on three films, including “Miracle” and “Warrior,” to score “The Accountant.” Isham expresses that he wanted to capture Christian’s unique persona in the music, stating, “He is a mathematical prodigy who lives in a world of numbers and numeric patterns, and I wanted the score to reflect that. Parts of the music were created using a series of simple patterns with competing tempos and enough randomness to create texture and nuance.”
“Mark’s mix of music captures the juxtaposition of action, emotion and suspense, even as it elevates the humanity of the story,” O’Connor offers. “His interplaying themes reflect the duality of the characters, influencing the dramatic impact of the film. There are a lot of mysteries in the plot…everybody has a secret.” Affleck remarks, “The great thing about ‘The Accountant’ is it’s smart and it has a ton of action and fun twists. And when it all comes together, I think the audience is in for a surprise.”
O’Connor concludes, “I wanted to make a film that was intellectually engaging, while also being a rollercoaster ride that can sweep the audience up in a story that doesn’t let up until the end. And if it moves you or makes you think or want to talk about it after you leave the theatre, that’s cool, too.”