When The Accountant roared into movie theaters last weekend, pulling in nearly $25 million, most people were no-doubt drawn in by the film’s big name stars Ben Affleck and J.K. Simmons. But as moviegoers got sucked deeper into the story of an autistic math genius and weapons expert who handles the books for several powerful criminal organization, a breakout star emerged: Cynthia Addai-Robinson.
In The Accountant, Addai-Robinson plays Marybeth Medina, a whip smart analyst with the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division. After being blackmailed by her boss (Simmons) to work on the case to catch Christian Wolff (Affleck), Medina uncovers information that just may help bring the talented accountant to justice.
“Initially as she’s tracking these clues, the stakes are pretty high for her in terms of why she has to get this case resolved,” Addai-Robinson tells EBONY.com. “Over the course of the film, it becomes less about working the case because she’s going to get in trouble and more about genuine interest in finding out who the accountant is.”
Medina, a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense character is a role many Black actresses would love to play, but rarely get the chance. But director Gavin O’Connor saw something special in Addai-Robinson. She beat out over 100 other actresses to get the role, but she almost missed her chance.
“I drove to the other side of town, had an incorrect address, and suddenly realized I was just not where I was supposed to be. By the time I got to the audition I kind of stumbled in, sweating, and I’m just kind of freaking out on the inside because, of course, I would love to be part of this movie. I would love to get this role,” she recalls. As stressful as the experience was, the actress was able to pull herself together and land the part.
“Sometimes when you’re flustered like that, you almost have to overcompensate with your focus,” she explains. “It’s like you really have to hone in and just try to really present the character clearly. All you can do is your own work and preparation, and the rest of it is so out of your hands.”
Watching Addai-Robinson hold her on among a cast full of vets makes it easy to see why O’Connor was drawn to the London-born actress. And now millions of people see it too. Though she’s appeared on Starz’s series Spartacus and The CW’s popular drama Arrow, co-starring in a bona fide box office hit like The Accountant is a big deal. And Addai-Robinson is taking it all in.
“I worked most closely with Gavin O’Connor and J.K. Simmons. They didn’t necessarily sign on to be my mentors, but you sort of take those moments and you really try to mentally take notes on things you can move using forward in life, in career, I really admire those guys,” she says.
Addai-Robinson continues: “Gavin saw something in me and felt like I was capable of taking on this role and working alongside this cast. The caliber of the actors we have, I just feel really honored to get to work alongside them as a peer. That for me is really sort of a huge step in the work I’ve been trying to do over the last few years and I’m just really excited to see it come to fruition.”