Manchester By The Sea Stars Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges Discuss Their Experience On The Film


One of the most talked and buzzed about films opens this weekend in Canada, and it’s not your typical November blockbuster. It’s a heartfelt drama directed by Kenneth Lonergan about an uncle played by Casey Affleck forced to look after his nephew after his brother suddenly dies of a heart attack. The film has been praised by critics, and during its run at TIFF we had a chance to sit down with two of the stars of the film, Kyle Chandler, who plays the deceased dad in flashbacks, and Lucas Hedges, who plays his son.

Real Style: What did you think about the script when you first read it?

Kyle Chandler: I was in a hotel room in New York. I got the script. I read it twice. I was amazed by it that I had to read it twice. I met Kenny the next day, had lunch with him, hoped I got the part. He asked me to join on-board and that’s where I am now. I’m so, so happy that I was a part of it. And to jump to the end, when I first saw the film, I had no idea at all that it could possibly be as wonderful as it was. And that’s that. 

Lucas Hedges: I wasn’t approached to do the movie. I wasn’t asked to do the movie. I had to audition, like, five times. I thought I wasn’t going to get it. I knew from the moment that I read the script that this kind of a part is extremely rare. I’m very new to this but I’ve been around long enough to recognize a special script and a special part.

Real Style: People are saying that this is a break out role for you Lucas. How does that feel so early on in your career to have done the role where people are like, “This is it! It’s time to watch this guy all the time now.”

Lucas: It doesn’t really feel real. What’s exciting for me is that it might allow me to keep working. I’ve gotten two movies because of it already and hopefully I’ll get more. That would be amazing.

Real Style:What did you learn while making this movie?

Lucas: You learn from doing and you learn from experiencing what it feels like to be present and lost in the moment with another artist. I went to places that I’ve never been before in this movie with Casey.

Real Style: How much did you guys have to try to get into the role as a family and how much of that came naturally as colleagues?

Lucas: I believed going into it that I needed to get into the role and dive into something. When I came in for the first audition, I was playing the scene extremely emotionally and I remember listening to music before going into the audition, trying to get myself into this state that I thought represented Patrick and his struggle. But the work I did with Kenny over the course of the audition process and the shooting was actually getting it out of my head that I had to get into something and to actually just play the scene and play the banter. The heart of my character is not like something you have to dive into, it’s just something you play and it’s actually simpler. I didn’t need to over complicate it.

Real Style: One of the things that’s really strong about the film is the balance of humour and tragedy. Was that evident on the page?  Was that human balance there?

Kyle: Yep, totally. That’s something that was so exciting about the script. It covered everything. It left spaces, you could tell, for different actors to find different things. It had everything. You had to figure it out. I realized that I didn’t have to do anything besides follow what was there because it was already crafted. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing is to not do anything, but just to trust what’s on the page. Normally, I’m the opposite, I’m writing down, “Oh, this would be a better line.” But this was done by a playwright and it was meticulously put together.

Real Style: What was Kenneth Lonergan like as a director in terms of his style in comparison to other directors that you’ve worked with?

Lucas: Kenny loves to be surprised. He loves it when something happens that he didn’t see coming. There is such a close attention to detail in his writing that is also true in his directing. It might just be the attention to detail is not typical.

Kyle: He’s very meticulous in all the best ways. Sometimes, to work with someone like that is the worst experience in the world because it will drive you nuts as an actor. But Kenny let us off the reigns a little bit. He let us fill in the spaces so everything came together. But it is his mind he’s getting what he wants.  And he sees everything. He sees what’s underneath everything and he knows how to present that. You’re not quite sure either when you’re getting direction from him. It was a revelation in the end that “Oh, that’s what he was doing.” 

Real Style: What was it like for both of you working with heavy weights like Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck?

Lucas: For me, it was incredibly intimidating and still kind of is intimidating. Once we really got into the filming that faded away and it just felt like we were in some weird town in Massachusetts. But it was really intimidating at first, especially because we were using Boston accents. I’m from Brooklyn, I’m not a Boston actor like Casey is.

Kyle: It’s the same. You know, you meet the actors. Everyone’s a little nervous when you all get together and meet the actors, meet the director. But once you get on set, then it’s like a sport. You’re playing a game, everyone’s equal and that’s where it’s fun.

Real Style: The movie takes place in winter. Kyle I know you’re accustomed to filming in very cold temperatures having done Early Edition. What are the tricks that an actor can use to try not to look so cold on camera? Or to try and not let people know you’re not that cold?

Kyle: Maybe a whiskey in your back pocket. That would be number one. I think most actors would agree to that.

By: Roderick Thedorff

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