The big Academy premiere for Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester By The Sea happened last night. There was a big after-party, of course. (North Shore working-class food — clam chowdah, baked beans, crab cakes, potato salad, etc.) I was roaming around with a friend, and for a short while we chatted with costar Lucas Hedges, who is totally locked for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Sharp dude, just turned 20, friendly, slick-looking suit, preparing to do a play (“Yen“) at the Lucille Lortel.
Manchester By The Sea costar and all-but-assured Best Supporting Actor nominee Lucas Hedges.
About a minute into our three-way it hit me that my pal wasn’t following rule #2 from Ms. Manners’ Manual of Normal Celebrity or Filmmaker Chit-Chat (2016 edition). Rule #1 is that your opening remarks must express one of the following: (a) a deeply personal emotional reaction to the film, (b) generic gushing praise, (c) an inside-baseball industry observation about box-office or awards prospects, or (d) admiration for some outfit or garment that the celebrity or filmmaker is wearing. My friend chose (a) but she broke rule #2 by not expressing her thought within 15 to 20 seconds, 30 at the outside. She took well over 90 seconds.
Why 30 seconds max and preferably 20, or better yet 15 or even 10? Because industry parties are not The Charlie Rose Show. They’re about sound bytes, banter, ping-pong. If you have something extra-heavy to say, fine, but do it within 20 or 30. But my friend went on for over 90, and the expression on Hedges’ face as she passed the 45-second mark was priceless. His face was basically saying “okay, we’re going deep and heavy here, and that’s cool but…wow, okay, she’s still developing her thought, throwing in a little back-story, not even close to the crescendo…but hang in there, hold your eye contact, show respect, let her run with it.”
I began to inwardly groan. We were suddenly in a therapist’s office– me, my friend and Lucas Hedges. As she approached the 75-second mark I began to silently scream and howl. Finally I couldn’t stand it. I’d been admiring Hedges’ suit so I jumped in and asked if it was made by The Kooples. “Gucci,” he smirked. Gucci?
Note: I didn’t post this to hurt anyone’s feelings but to remind everyone to keep your chatter fast and loose at these affairs. Parties are The Jimmy Kimmel Show, and not Dick Cavett‘s 1970s PBS talk show or David Susskind‘s Open End. If the party is winding down and people are starting to leave, you can go in a slightly more thoughtful or reflective direction, but only a little bit.
Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams.
(l. to r.) Matt Damon, Hedges, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Matthew Broderick.