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Casey Affleck on Why Tragic ‘Manchester by the Sea’ Is Funnier Than People Think (Video)

”The writing’s so good that it can be really funny in one moment and you’re crying the next moment,“ actor tells TheWrap

Casey Affleck is the star of Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” a drama about a family struck with multiple tragedies in a small New England town.

But while the film — which is already picking up plenty of Oscar buzz — is a bona fide tear-jerker, Affleck said the script wasn’t devoid of some welcome humor.

“It’s a really funny script too,” he told TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell. “It’s a really funny movie.”

“This isn’t exactly a huge comedy or anything, but there’s a lot of humor in it and that’s fun to do,” he continued. “The writing’s so good that it can be really funny in one moment and you’re crying the next moment.”

Affleck welcomed that, given the emotional weight of his role in the film. He plays Lee Chandler, a janitor who is forced to go back to his hometown – and in doing so, confront demons from his past — when his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), passes away and leaves him with custody of his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

And while the movie follows the morose Lee, whose journey never allows him to fully escape the trauma of his past, Affleck said the lighter notes translated to the theater. He said the film was able to make the audience laugh — and then tug at their heartstrings — all without skipping a beat.

“To hear the whole crowd laughing and sniffling and laughing and sniffling … wow, it really works,” he said.

Affleck said the strength of Lonergan’s screenplay attracted him to the film, and he also likes roles like Lee Chandler that challenge him as an actor.

“Sometimes when I read something and I think I can’t do that, I know that’s something I should try to do,” he said.

See the video interview with Affleck above, and with Hedges below.