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Telluride: Casey Affleck reflects on working with Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale and others

Casey Affleck stars in the new drama,
Casey Affleck stars in the new drama, "Manchester By The Sea."
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The Telluride Film Festival take place this weekend in mountains of Colorado where one of the first movies to screen was the drama "Manchester By The Sea" starring Casey Affleck.

The film made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year where it was picked up for distribution by Amazon. It comes out in limited release November 18 and goes wider in December). The movie is written and directed by the Kenneth Lonergan ("You Can Count on Me"). It tells the story of an uncle, played by Affleck, who is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

At the Telluride Film Festival, the actor received a career tribute that included a clip package of his various films followed by a Q & A with The Frame's John Horn prior to the screening of "Manchester By the Sea." Their conversation included reflections on what he's learned from directors like Gus Van Sant and Lonergan or actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale and Rooney Mara (See highlights below.)

To hear the full conversation with Casey Affleck click the play button at the top of this page or get The Frame podcast on itunes.


On his favorite part about acting:

The reason that I keep [acting] is the conversations that I have early in the morning, late at night, between the scenes. And none of them were ever better than the ones that I had with Kenny [Lonergan] just talking about, Why does the character do this? What would you do? What would I do? I was thinking about this recently, but the only reason that I do movies is because I like having those conversations. 

The rest of it is either a chore leading up to it or just following through on the fun part that we just had. When you're with someone like Kenny, all of those conversations make you understand yourself better, other people better, and the characters better. That's the fun part but watching [the movies] is torture unless Rooney [Mara] is in movie. Then it's a pure joy to watch [laughs]. 

On working with Rooney Mara on the film, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints":

I just fell in love with her and then the movie's over and then she lets you know that she was just sucking you in [laughs]. Then there's zero feeling there at the wrap party and I was devastated. I was kind of just a little fly in her web, I guess. So that was how that was like. 

On the stresses of working with Christian Bale on "Out of the Furnace":

With Christian [Bale], I hadn't worked in a few years and Kenny [Lonergan] was doing this play, which was called "The Medieval Play" which I had done a first act performance of, and it was one of the funniest things anyone has never seen. It really was one of my favorite things  and I used to laugh on stage and Kenny would get very mad at me but I couldn't do the play without laughing because it was so funny.

Then he was gonna do it for a longer run, and I was -- as happens sometimes in my career -- broke. And I had to go do this movie instead of doing that. And I asked Kenny's permission if I could do that and he said of course go do that...So then I went to go do "Out of the Furnace" and Christian [Bale] was on that. And I had sort of forgotten a little bit of like what you're supposed to do on set-- It had been a couple of years. And I also stopped liking being in movies because of all the stuff surrounding it. 

Then I was there with him and he just never has a false moment. You just look in his eyes and he seems like a real person who's really saying these things. He really cares about you or doesn't care about you, or whatever it is that he's supposed to be doing, and it was unnerving. So for the first few days I went home and felt terrible -- like a fraud. And then I sort of fell into the groove with him. 

I remember saying to him on the first day, "I'm really sorry, man. I just feel totally lost in the scene." And he perked up and said, "Oh great! Lost is a really good thing to feel!" And I thought like, Ok,  I"m in great hands with this guy. He's one of my favorites. 

On who he consults when choosing a role: 

I do ask my kids for so reason. Just because I can lay it out very plainly, both sides of it, and they'll just give me a quick, straight, intuitive answer. And they've never been wrong. 

On his longtime friendship with Joaquin Phoenix:

We became close friends on "To Die For" and I think we just share a sense of humor...I directed a movie  that he was in ["I'm Still Here"] which we both thought was very funny and no one else really did [laughs]. But there were a lot of strange reactions to it. To this day, people still think it may have been real. There's a lot of confusion surrounding it and that, I think, that  bonded us even more. I also married his sister [laughs], but we were bonded and I think sort of rediscovered a very unique sense of humor.

I love working with him and I also just think that there's no one who commits more to doing a part ever. He loves that part of it. He loves just sort of being someone else entirely. And it's a nightmare -- if he's playing somebody who's a nightmare -- to be around him. You just have to just avoid him every few months every now and again. But he's always excellent. 

Casey Affleck's new film, "Manchester By The Sea,"  is in theaters on November 18.

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