Manchester by The Sea director-writer Kenneth Lonergan and star Casey Affleck sat for a Sunday afternoon q & a at Telluride’s Werner Herzog theatre. I showed up to record it — here’s the mp3. I said last January that Affleck is a lock for a Best Actor nomination, and right now it’s hard to envision any male lead performance that will pose a serious threat, much less nudge him aside. Yeah, I know — Tom Hanks as Sully, right? A very good performance but I don’t think so.
Here’s a partial transcript of what Affleck said yesterday about his working relationship with Lonergan during the shoot:
Manchester By The Sea star Casey Affleck, apparently snapped during a recent Telluride event. (I wasn’t there and I’m not going to guess or call around to find out.)
“I felt very, very safe. I had to show up every day emotionally charged. That was my responsibility, to be in a really shitty mood or feeling very, very sad or whatever. But Kenny would not resent me or fire me. Nor would he be afraid of me. And he would set very firm parameters. A very firm guiding light. That’s right, this isn’t right, this is the right spot. To be out of control is a real luxury [for an actor on a film set], and I was able to be out of control because Kenny had drawn the map, so all I had to do was walk it with conviction. And I knew that he knew I’d be going into the right places.”
Again, the mp3.
I’m aware that there are emotional simpletons out there (i.e., the ones Scott Feinberg wrote about other day) who might not absorb or even resist the full bounty of Affleck’s performance because they want the usual third-act uplift (a sense of general healing with the lead character feeling happy or at least content), and Manchester doesn’t deliver that specific sedative in the usual way. The film ends peacefully and hopefully, but not joyously. How could it?
Affleck, Rooney Mara during 2016 Telluride Film Festival patron’s brunch.