Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF)

DELILAH KIRBY

EMMA HABECKER

Lifestyle Editor and Staff Writer

Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck’s incredible film, Manchester by the Sea, highlights the heartbreaking struggle of dealing with grief. In the film, the uncle (Casey Affleck,) is asked to take care of his nephew after the death of his brother. Their unforgettable and raw performance is exactly why they were chosen for the Cinema Vanguard Award. This award was created to honor actors with the tenacity to forge new realms in their craft, and to ultimately try something new within their spectrum. The two were interviewed by Scott Feinberg, a journalist from the Hollywood Reporter who sponsored the event.

The two stars began their interview by highlighting an ‘embarrassing’ film reel that instigated their film careers. They both cringed at seeing their beginning films like, Dick, Lemon Sky, Baywatch, and Race the Sun. Michelle Williams highlighted her experience on Dawson’s Creek, a dramatic series about a group of friends in high school, that she worked on at the age of fourteen.

It was really tough to be a teenager and to have a forming sense of identity.” said actress, Michelle Williams. “To have my identity growing around her identity and to have people judge me based on that really hurt. I’m super grateful for that show for a lot of reasons.”

They continued to discuss the struggles of being actors, especially within their personal lives and having children. William and Affleck confessed that both had taken on roles in their lives to positively help their families financially, making the actors seem just a little bit more real to regular people. Similarly, both questioned many times within their career whether it was worth it to spend time making these films that might not get any recognition. Their priorities were questioned as well: spending time with their families or fulfilling their passions?  Both also discussed their lack of confidence to which films would be the one to spark the success of their careers, and Manchester by the Sea definitely did not seem like the one to them.

Feinberg took them on a journey through their careers, films that made the audience nostalgic, and ones that people had not heard of, but are now dying to see. A majority of their roles took place with independent films, highlighting struggles of real issues and people. For example, Michelle William’s role in Blue Valentine encapsulates the pain and alluded love that occurs in abusive relationships. Casey Affleck’s beginning breakthrough movie, Good Will Hunting, starred an unrecognized genius who studied advanced mathematics underneath a professor.

The couple’s director, Kenneth Lonergan, concluded the evening by presenting the

award. He commented on their exquisite love connections throughout the film, and how Affleck’s confident presence always gave Williams the courage and comfort to beautifully finish the scenes.

I’m really grateful to have worked with incredibly kind, thoughtful people,” said director Kenneth Lonergan.

Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams provided a real and comforting insight to the struggles of acting by letting us into the interpersonal, family, and career struggles that have brought them into their successful and raw careers today.

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