10 Famous Factional and Fictional Accountants (And Wannabes!)
Accountancy in general gets a lot of stick for being boring, but there’s no doubt that accountants themselves cop for it the worst; if you were to look up accountant in the dictionary, you’d expect boring to be in the related words ( I even checked…). However, when we dig a little deeper and peel back the corporate, straight laced exterior of your average accountant, you’ll be surprised to find lurking beneath a whole hoard of crazy and interesting people; from musicians and comedians to socialists, crime solvers and makers!
Here’s my top 10 most interesting and inspiring accountants (and ‘wannabes’), both on and off screen.
10. John Grisham
One of only three people to have sold two million copies on its first printing, John Grisham is a not only a powerhouse in modern literature, but also an alumni of accounting! He may be known as a lawyer first and foremost (with the rape trial of a 12 year old girl inspiring his first novel, A Time To Kill), but there are parallels between his own background in accounting and some of his characters; so accountancy has certainly influenced this best selling author.
9. GhostBusters: Louis Tully (Rick Moranis)
So you’re just a run of the mill accountant; slightly geeky with an unhealthy love of board games (especially Parcheesi) … or are you? Are you in fact the human embodiment of a demon sent down to earth to wreak havoc and destruction on a plant lacking morals and decency, hopefully ending in the obliteration of the entire human race? Not so boring now are you!
8. Kenny G
Kenny G is a musician known as a smooth jazz saxophonist. He has many accolades under his belt: he’s the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era, one of the best selling artists of all time and the record for the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone in the Guinness Book of World Records (holding the note for a mind-blowing 45 minutes and 47 seconds!). Kenny also graduated accounting with a magna cum laude (one of the highest achievements a student can be awarded with).
It’s no surprise then that Kenny G is clever with money; he was actually one of the first 10 investors into the global, super brand Starbucks Coffee. The only comment he’s made in regards to returns on his investment is to say, he has made as much from his investment in the high street coffee outlet as he has in his music career; I think its safe to say his accounting ability may have made this an easy and well informed decision!
7. Stranger than Fiction: Harold Crick (Will Ferrell)
So you work for the IRS as an Auditor, everyone hates you and then you start to develop an inner monologue predicting your certain and untimely death… it must suck to be you! Well, not necessarily if you’re Harold Crick as you’re about to discover that the boring and mundane aren’t always as they seem – I mean how many people have a best selling author penning their ending! That’s makes you not only an interesting accountant, but an interesting man in general; of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s Will Ferrell.
6. Eddie Izzard
Yes, comedian and cross-dresser extraordinaire Eddie Izzard studied to become an accountant! Izzards father was an accountant, and after failing all his exams at the University of Sheffield (and being told he couldn’t retake them…oops!) he went onto to London and honed his performing skills in Covent Garden. Izzard then went onto perform on stage in various clubs and comedy stores, and now sells out arenas both nationally and globally.
5. Schindler’s List: Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley)
Itzhak Stern was to some, just a Jewish accountant – nothing more, and certainly thought of as a whole lot less. However, it was his friendship with German businessman Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) that led to the safe rescue of hundreds of Jews from Nazi death camps. Both Stern and Schindler risked life and limb to shelter them all safely. This story is both harrowing and uplifting, and all thanks to the relationship between two very real businessmen.
4. Robert Plant
Black Country legend and rock god Robert Plant had a brush with accounting before his music career took off. Plants father wanted him to train as a chartered accountant, but after a few weeks plant gave up the glamour of VAT and tax returns to become one of the greatest singers in rock history; with a hugely successful career as the frontman of iconic 70’s rock band Led Zeppelin and solo career that see’s Plant still performing well into his 60’s.
3. The Producers: Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder/ Matthew Broderick)
Is Leo Bloom an innocuous, anxious accountant or a criminal master mind? Well, when Bloom is employed by failing producer Max Bialystock, he comments on how a show that flops could generate up to $2 million (as the IRS wouldn’t investigate a flop). Bialystock tries to persuade Bloom to help him put the plan into action, but Bloom declines; it’s not until he’s back in his accountancy firm Bloom realises his dream of becoming a producer. Bialystock and Bloom then go on an elaborate, theatrical and ‘gay’ adventure to find the worst play ever written and produce a show so offensive and terrible that the audience will walk out in protest.
2. Mick Jagger
Yes, another rock legend! Mick Jagger was also lured away from the crazy world of accounting, after only one year of studying accounting and finance at the London School of Economics on a scholarship. Maybe rock and accounting are secretly entwined? Who knew!
1. The Untouchables: Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith)
The take down of one of the most notorious Mob members in history, Al Capone, and it was done by an astute accountant. Crime may pay… but not if you do your taxes wrong! After many failed raid attempts, Treasury agent and accountant Wallace brings Capone’s income tax return to the attention of Bureau of Prohibition agent Eliot Ness; Capone hasn’t filled his tax in over four years, meaning they can prosecute him for tax evasion. After a few heavy fire confrontations, a big death and some dirty dealings, Capone is sentenced to eleven years in prison. This semi-factual tale shows how a detail driven, number crunching accountant can make a huge impact in the world– as Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion in 1931! Accounting win!