Seth Lee may only be a teenager, but his performance in Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant is proving to audiences everywhere that he’s a young actor whose talent and skill belie his age. In the film, Lee plays the younger version of Ben Affleck’s Christian Wolff, a man with Asperger’s Syndrome who learns through his father’s tough love how to exist in a world that doesn’t always understand his unique abilities. Lee delivers a compelling performance, perfectly capturing the fear and frustration of a child who’s forced to go against his own grain. While we only see Lee in flashback sequences, his performance complements that of Ben Affleck’s and gives audiences a full view of this character’s lifelong struggle to understand himself.
More than just a budding actor, Lee is also an aspiring director. When he’s not acting, he’s at home diligently crafting his own sketches and short films, many of which he posts to his YouTube Channel.
Lee took a few minutes out of his day to speak with us about his role in The Accountant as well as his passion for directing:
What can you tell us about your role in The Accountant?
I play the younger version of Christian Wolff, and Christian Wolff grows up with Asperger’s. His father is a veteran, so he has the instinct to teach his son a different way to deal with Asperger’s. He grows up to be an accountant and an awesome dude. Just really cool.
That’s great. Did you have to do any research about Asperger’s? Did you meet anyone with Asperger’s?
Oh yeah, definitely. Like before I even booked the part, I was studying a few short films and documentaries and stuff. But once I booked the part, Warner Brothers sent me out to go to a school, like an education spectrum at Hirsch Academy in Atlanta. I got to hang out for the day with some of the kids. It was a fascinating experience, kind of surreal.
That’s so cool. Can you describe your audition process for this role?
I got sent the part through my agent at the time, and they just said this was a great role and it was with Ben Affleck. I was like, wow I love Ben Affleck. And then, at the time, Ben had booked Batman and so I was like, this is a great opportunity. But I really wanted to try my best with it, and I fell in love with the character when I got the script.
When I went to the audition, in one of my scenes, I had an episode, and that was one of the test scenes. I threw a chair at the casting director, and I just got into the character, and she loved it. The next day, they called me back, and they were like “hey, we want to fly you to Atlanta on Friday.” I think it was a Wednesday or a Thursday.
So, they flew me out to Atlanta for the director’s callback and Gavin [O’Connor], the director; he had me read with him a few times. At the same time, they had my buddy Jake Presley, and he was auditioning for my brother, and so, me and him went in with Gavin a few times to work together. We did a chemistry read at the same time as the audition. That was really interesting and fun.
Awesome! So, how do you go about getting into a character like Chris?
At the time, I hadn’t done anything so I let Ben direct me, and sometimes I’d add something I liked, but I really had Ben and Gavin direct me on how they wanted the character. I mean, at the time, I didn’t want to feel like I had more authority than Ben, so I let Ben and Gavin really help me with this character. But I did have some of my own creative ideas that we got to use, so that was really cool.
What was the most challenging part about playing this character?
It’s a different kind of role with the Asperger’s, but I didn’t really have a lot of challenges. It was fun. But I can’t think of any challenging moments I had with the character.
Okay, that’s cool. Some of your scenes in the film were very physical. Did your background in martial arts help you in those scenes?
Yes, it definitely helped a lot. Martial arts hasn’t helped me just for this role, but it’s helped me for other roles. Like, I played Jake in Underdog Kids, a martial arts film. So, martial arts has helped me a lot throughout my career so far. But with this character, I did have some fight scenes. So, it was cool to have something I’ve been doing for a long time incorporated into a film like this.
That’s awesome. What was the best part of about working on The Accountant?
I’d have to say the best part was–I mean, I didn’t get to work with them in the scenes–but working with actors like Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick. It was crazy and awesome at the same time. And working with someone like Gavin was outstanding and surreal, and so, I think that was one of the best parts of filming. Hanging out with my friend Jake on set was great too. We were staying at the same hotel, so that was really cool. And I just had a lot of fun with this role.
Great! Now, you’ve been in a couple of different things. You’ve been acting for a little while. What do you love most about being an actor?
Being an actor, it’s fun because anyone can be a police officer. But with acting, I can be a policeman, or in the next project, I could be anything else, like an astronaut or a fireman. So, it’s cool because there’s a lot of creative minds in film, and so having a creative childhood, I feel like it’s great if you’re one of the creative people. I’ve loved acting since I first started. With my first audition, I knew that this was something that I want to pursue as a career and not just a hobby or something.
Cool! I watched some of your skits and short films on YouTube, and they were really fun and interesting. What’s your favorite thing about directing or putting these stories together?
It’s different from acting because you have—like I said with acting, you have a lot of creative minds—but with directing, you really have a chance to control stuff the way you want to and make something from literally paper, or the computer, and turn it into something that could go viral. With directing, you don’t have one thing or one character to base off of. You get to create so many other characters and create the world outside, and it’s really cool. And I hope I can pursue directing as well as acting.
What kind of equipment do you use to make your short films?
With some of my short films, I had used Red cameras before—I think it was the Red Dragon. I used that for a few of them. Then my primary camera that I bought that I use for everything, whether that’s like blogging or something, is a Canon 6D. Then I have a microphone—I don’t remember what it’s called. I also have a tripod. (laughs)
That’s awesome. As far as acting goes, do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I have a horror/action film called Master Slasher that we should start shooting sometime next year. And then I also recently shot a short film with Ryan Phillippe and Noah Schnapp from Stranger Things called Circle. That should be coming out sometime soon. It’s fascinating and different. Besides that, I’m just auditioning and working hard and hopefully I can find a role like The Accountant.
Now, do you have a particular kind of film that you like to do? Or a genre that you prefer?
My favorite type of movie to watch is horror, and so, I’ve always wanted to do a horror film. And Master Slasher is definitely a horror film. If I could do a straight-up horror film like Insidious or The Conjuring, that’d be cool. But if I had to choose a character, I’d say I’d want to play Damien Wayne from the DC Universe. That’s one of the roles that if I had to choose anything, it’d be that, for sure.
What do you like to get nerdy about?
I like fashion and shoes. I have a bunch of Jordans and stuff like that. Then I also like clothes. I shop at H&M and some of the higher end stores like Maxfield. I also like comics. But I definitely geek out over fashion more than comics. (laughs)
Catch Seth in The Accountant which is in theaters now.