Playback: Casey Affleck on ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ 10th Anniversary of ‘Jesse James’

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

On today’s show, a Golden Globes postmortem as “La La Land” swept its categories Sunday night and surprise wins for Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”) and Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) were in store. Plus, somehow, some way, Fox’s “Deadpool” isn’t going away this season, having now added a Producers Guild nomination to its unlikely tally.

Later on (20:43), I’m talking to director one of the toasts of the season, Casey Affleck. Beginning with a Sundance bow for “Manchester by the Sea,” picking back up with a tribute at the Telluride Film Festival and now on the cusp of an Oscar nomination for his work on the film (which has brought him over 30 critics awards for best actor), the year has been one Affleck won’t likely soon forget.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

Speaking of Telluride, we covered a little ground that we did back at that Labor Day fest, namely the difficulty maintaining the headspace of the film, which is at times quite morose and melancholy (despite having its own sense of humor throughout).

“It’s harder to go in and out of it,” Affleck says. “I think probably Michelle [Williams] had a tougher job, because she’d come in, work a day, and then go home for a week. She had a couple of heavy scenes and it’s hard to turn it on and off like that. Every day I had some scene that was really challenging, that was very emotional in some way.”

Affleck goes back to the 2002 London theater production of “This is Our Youth” with director Kenneth Lonergan. He says what makes Lonergan’s works so great is that you believe they are populated with real people. There’s not stylization to the writing or directing that puts the audience at a distance.

“[‘Manchester by the Sea’] was very precisely written,” the actor says. “He spent three years on this and he really wants every word on the page in the movie … He has such a good ear for how people talk, especially how young people talk. In ‘This is Our Youth,’ he really captures the repetitive nature of some of the conversations and kids sitting around seemingly not talking about anything but really sort of sharing a lot more than they think that they’re sharing.”

Meanwhile, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the film that brought Affleck his first Oscar nomination, a true masterpiece of the western genre: Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” We dig into that a little bit, as well as the troubled production of HBO miniseries “Lewis and Clark” and whether he’s living the dream he had for himself 20 years ago when he was still struggling to break into this business.

Hear about all of that and a whole lot more in the streaming link above.

Subscribe to “Playback” at iTunes.

Casey Affleck photographed exclusively for the Variety Playback podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

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