This past Sunday, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented the 2017 Cinema Vanguard Award to Oscar-nominated actors Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams for their performances in Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea.” The award was created in recognition of “actors who have forged their own path taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film.”
After accepting the award, Affleck gave a speech in which he acknowledged that the past year spent traveling the world and screening “Manchester by the Sea” has provided the answer to why he became an actor in the first place: the Alateen meetings (a support group for young people and relatives affected by alcoholics) his mother had him attend as a kid due to his father’s alcoholism. Watch the full speech below starting at 14:41.
“She’d drive us across town to a church and we’d sit in this room with other kids we didn’t know,” he said, “and the people who were running it would walk us through these exercises basically reenacting what was happening at home. So you’d watch these other kids behaving like their drunk mom or dad, and yelling and throwing things and hitting them and so forth and then you’d get up and do your thing. I was 9 years old. That was the first acting I ever did.”
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“It was therapy, but it was also drama,” Affleck continued. “It was drama and it was therapy. Acting for me has sort of been that ever since, taking the things from your life and putting them to use in some way. I think the reason I’ve been an actor is that my mother took me to those meetings. Thank God for her.”
Affleck has been a frontrunner for Best Actor awards since “Manchester’s” Sundance premiere, winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, but he has fallen under scrutiny for a 2010 sexual harrassment suit which he settled out of court.
“Manchester by the Sea” has been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.