[WATCH] Kenneth Lonergan (‘Manchester by the Sea’) on Casey Affleck’s performance: ‘He’s amazing in this’

“I think he’s amazing in this. I’ve always thought he was a really special actor,” said Kenneth Lonergan, writer and director of “Manchester by the Sea,” about his lead actor Casey Affleck. Lonergan discussed the film after it was previewed for press and industry at the New York Film Festival on Friday, September 30 (watch above). The film screens for regular festival attendees starting October 1.

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But Affleck wasn’t initially attached to play the role of Lee Chandler, a depressed handyman enlisted to care for his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the death of Lee’s brother. “Initially Matt Damon was going to play the role,” Lonergan explained, but a scheduling conflict forced him to drop out. In came Affleck, “who had been on deck in a sense because we weren’t sure Matt’s schedule was going to work out.”

Lonergan added, “Working with him was a real delight. I had never worked with him this closely or this intensely. It was one of the most satisfying and interesting experiences I’ve ever had collaborating with an actor.” He notes that Affleck “has a somewhat obsessive and prosaic drive to understand what’s happening” and that the two talked scene-by-scene — sometimes line-by-line — about his character’s motivations.

That attention to detail has worked out well for Lonergan and Affleck, who have both received abundant critical acclaim and Oscar buzz for the film.

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