Kenneth Lonergan is, apparently, a determined and brave man. The award-winning writer made his directorial debut in 2000 with the wonderful You Can Count On Me, which immediately made him a sought-after name in Hollywood. His follow-up, Margaret, was filmed in 2005 before disappearing into a legally-troubled, post-production funk that lasted for over five years. Audiences will be hoping for a smoother process for Lonergan’s third film – the upcoming Manchester-By-The-Sea – although there has already been a cast change.
Originally set to star Lonergan’s Margaret lead, Matt Damon, Manchester-By-The-Sea will seemingly have a similar tone to You Can Count On Me. The story centres on a plumber who hears of the death of his brother and returns home to the titular town. There, he finds he must care for his 16 year old nephew, while dealing with a past tragedy that threatens to come back to haunt him.
Despite initially signing on to the drama, it seems that Damon has since over-committed himself in terms of scheduling, with projects reported to include a Paul Greengrass Bourne film, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian, and Alexander Payne’s film Downsizing all stacked on his slate. Thankfully, Casey Affleck has stepped in to the role, and couldn’t be a better fit for Lonergan’s style. Speaking to The Boston Globe about another project – The Finest Hours – Affleck briefly explained the situation, and the implications it has on the project.
“Matt can’t do it. And, you know, if Matt’s not in it, it’ll be good.”
Other than Margaret, there has been no finished cinematic work from Kenneth Lonergan since that project began filming in 2005. While that movie was unceremoniously tossed a 14 theatre limited release in 2011 – after five years of arguments between Lonergan and Fox Searchlight over the final cut – it was well received by critics, and creates an air of growing anticipation around Manchester-By-The-Sea. The addition of Casey Affleck in the lead role certainly heightens that interest, and further casting announcements are expected soon.
Source: The Film Stage