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MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM

The Mutant Henry
As Mr. Magorium prepares to depart, he realizes he has to put the price of his emporium on the books – to that end he hires Henry the accountant to do the unthinkable and really, for Mr. Magorium, the impossible. Mr. Magorium has little concept of what an accountant is, and thus assumes that Henry must be a cross "between a counter and a mutant.” Indeed, far preferring resplendent inventions to receipts, Mr. Magorium has not a single clue as to the Emporium's financial well being, outside of the fact that it has run quite nicely for 114 years. But for Henry, the Emporium appears to be an economic headache of infinite proportions, until he begins to befriend the store's manager, Molly Mahoney. 

This relationship was as key to the wide-ranging, comic fun of "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium” as Silly Putty® and Radio Flyers®. "Our inspiration for the relationship between Mahoney and Henry was Hepburn and Tracey with that kind of classic back-and-forth banter, so we knew we needed a Henry with impeccable comic timing,” notes James Garavente. "But we also wanted to find someone who could really make you buy that this is a guy who just doesn't ever see the magic in the world – a guy who really is us in a way, yet who ultimately, in spite of himself, comes to believe. That person was, without a doubt, Jason Bateman.” 

Bateman recently came to the fore in the comic role of Michael Bluth, the sole source of stability in a family of out-of-control dysfunction, on one of television's most acclaimed shows, "Arrested Development.” The role won him not only fans and accolades but also a Golden Globe® Award – and this year he graces the screen in a number of highly anticipated movies.  Says Zach Helm of choosing Bateman to play Henry: "Even though Henry is a such a skeptic, you root for him because of Jason's portrayal. He is so comfortable in the realm of playing discomfort that you totally understand Henry's difficulty in trying to deal with the bizarre goings-on at the Emporium. Combined with his innate talents and incredible personal chemistry with the rest of the cast, I think Jason created some of the best comic pieces in the entire movie.”

Bateman recalls finding out he got the role while in typical LA traffic. "My phone rang and it was my manager and agent saying that I was going to be doing a movie in a matter of weeks with Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman. That's when I hit the first car,” he jokes. "I hit the second car when they told me that the writer-director was Zach Helm. Needless to say, I drove right to my manager's office to pick up the script. In reality I didn't even need to read the script to say yes because the prospect of working with Natalie, Dustin and Zach was a real treat for a guy like me.” But once he got his hands on the script, Bateman was even more hooked. "The whole visual tone of the movie just floats my boat,” he says.

As for Henry, Bateman has some sympathy for the poor, logic-bound fellow who finds himself trying to straighten out 114 years of utterly anarchic bookkeeping. "Henry is a pretty uptight guy, and he's very skeptical of any notion of magic and fantasy. He just wants to work on the books,” notes Bateman, "until things start to happen for which there's no other explanation except magic.”

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