Casey Affleck backstage at the 2017 Academy Awards

February 27, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 89th Annual Academy Awards took place on February, 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.


Oscar win:

Best Actor

(“Manchester by the Sea”)


Oscar win:

Best Original Screenplay

(“Manchester by the Sea”)

Here is what these Oscar winners said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.


Casey Affleck at the 2017 Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
Casey Affleck at the 2017 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mike Baker/©A.M.P.A.S.)

What did you like about making this movie in Boston?

Casey Affleck (actor): Well, I like to work there because I know it so well and it still feels like home, so that’s sort of a bonus of getting to work on a movie that is in Boston.  There’s also a certain familiarity that helps the work, I think. But, you know, Kenny [Lonergan] writes with such incredible authenticity and specificity that it really was on the page, the whole feel of the place and the characters and everything.  So I could have been from anywhere else and I think I would have got it.

What do you think of the looming Writers Guild America talks? What are your thoughts? What are your wants? Do you think they should strike? 

Kenneth Lonergan (writer/director): Do I think they should strike? Well, I don’t think they should strike now because that would be premature. You know, obviously, I want to get as much as we can for ourselves without screwing anybody else. That’s a strange attitude to take in Hollywood, but that is the attitude I think that the union should take.

I would like to see someday in these negotiations some negotiations for more creative control for screenwriters working in the studio system. There’s a lot of complicated ancillary rights issues, especially nowadays, but the creative control issue is still pretty much the bottom rank could be for a working screenwriter in a studio system, and it would be nice if someday that was able to change.

Casey, you said something along the lines of you wished you had something meaningful to say. You said something fairly meaningful yesterday at the Independent Spirit Awards, but we were led to believe that this was going to be a very political Oscars, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. So why do you think that was?

Affleck: Why was it that there weren’t that many people who made remarks that were political? I think there were quite a few people who said some things that were sort of about their current global political situation and they’re also about … but were from a point of view of artists and they spoke about the importance of arts and so forth. I don’t know why more people didn’t.

It doesn’t entirely seem like an inappropriate place given the state of things. It seems like this is just as fine a platform as any to make some remarks so long they are respectful and positive. Personally, I didn’t say anything because my head was completely blank, the shock of winning the award, and the terror of having a microphone in front of you, and all of those faces staring at you.

So if I said I wish I had something meaningful to say, that was my inside voice coming out.  I wasn’t even aware that I actually said that out loud. I didn’t thank my children, which is something that I’ll probably never ever live down. About three seconds after I made it backstage, my phone rang and my son said, “You didn’t even mention us!”  And my heart just sank. So, you know, that probably would have been the most meaningful thing I could have said and I failed.

Lonergan: My daughter who is 15 was extremely irritated that I mentioned her at all, so you can’t really win.

Casey, during your speech they took a shot of your brother, Ben, in the front and it looked like he was having tears. What was it was like accepting the award in front of him and a group of your loved ones?

Affleck: It was very moving, and I include Kenny in that group of loved ones. And, obviously, my brother, to have him there, yeah, it was a nice moment. I saw those tears and I thought maybe I’m just not making a good speech, and he was really disappointed.  But I think he was probably touched, and I think that we are—not to brag or anything, but I think we’re the only two brothers to win Academy Awards, ever. [NOTE: Filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen actually won Oscars for directing, producing and writing the adapted screenplay for the 2007 dram “No Country for Old Men.”]

Casey, from almost the first major showing of “Manchester by the Sea,” you were predicted to win this award, and I’m sure that that whole ride has been kind of crazy. But how has it changed your expectation for what you can do as an artist? How has it fed your future thoughts for where you’re going?

Affleck: It’s only just reinforced the idea that I had going into it which was if you want to have a good performance or do good work, really, then you’d better work with good directors and good material because, let’s face it, that’s really what a good performance is, 90 percent of it. And this man is the best.

We really enjoyed that brotherly moment between you and Ben, the great hug. What did he say to you before you took the stage or did he give you any advice before coming into this evening?

Affleck: No, he didn’t. He didn’t actually say anything. He just hugged me. A lot of people have been giving me some grief for not thanking him in the past, but in a friendly way. He may have said, “Have fun” or something. It was really insightful, it was. “Be yourself.”

You know, what is there really to say? I’ve learned a lot from him because he’s been through a lot in this business and ups and downs and been under‑appreciated. I don’t know, and then it’s been proven how great he is. It’s been an advantage to be able to watch someone you love and you know so well go try to navigate the very tricky, rocky, sometimes hateful waters of being famous. And so I have learned a lot from him. But in that moment, I don’t think he said anything at all.

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