Acting in itself is a challenging profession – having to change who you are as a person and become like someone else – and requires skill and dedication. In the new movie, The Accountant, released on October 14, 2016, Ben Affleck plays a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. However, this movie has a twist! Affleck’s character is a mathematics savant who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In order to play the character of a man with autism, Affleck did extensive research to learn and understand how people with autism function on a daily basis. Affleck wanted to ensure that he played the part as accurately as possible, so he shadowed several individuals who were actually on the spectrum. In doing so, he was able to acquire the knowledge to act out mannerisms and behavior of someone who lives with autism everyday.
Affleck was apprehensive at first about starring in this film because he was afraid that he would not portray an autistic man correctly and he didn’t want to offend anyone within the autism community. To ensure that Affleck was as spot on with his character as possible (considering no two cases of autism are the same), he screened the movie for people from Autism Speaks, as well as several other organizations that support autism before its release.
According to the LA Times, Affleck said, “We wanted to make sure we were passing their test of authenticity and honesty, and we’ve gotten fantastic responses from them, which feels really good.” That said, he added, “Someone is going to take issue with it. It’s just the way of the world now with social media and the Internet.”
One film critic, Alexandra Haagaard from The Establishment, has autism and saw the film. Her review on the movie was slightly different. In one scene, Affleck’s character subjects himself to overstimulation and sensory overloads, such as strobe lights, and heavy metal music. Sensory overload for the autism community is a real thing and Haagaard felt as though it was insensitive towards the autistic audience members since it induced real life sensory overload. Haagaard even had to close her eyes and ears at one point because it was too overwhelming.
The Accountant is now in theaters! If you get a chance to see this film, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below expressing your thoughts on Affleck’s portrayed his character with autism.