How Matt Damon Convinced Kenneth Lonergan to Direct ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (Exclusive Video)

“It had come to be my own, in my mind anyway,” writer-director Lonergan tells TheWrap

Kenneth Lonergan’s heartbreaking film “Manchester by the Sea” grew from a kernel of an idea by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, who approached the two-time Academy Award nominee (“You Can Count on Me”) to write the script.

“The way they described the characters, the basic situation seemed very compelling and it appealed to me,” Lonergan told TheWrap’s Steve Pond. “It sounded like something I could write.”

Set in the blue-collar Massachusetts town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, the film stars Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler, a broken man who is drafted to be his nephew’s legal guardian when his brother (Kyle Chandler) dies.

That’s the story that Lonergan wrote. But then he made an unexpected leap into the director’s chair.

“Essentially, Matt was going to direct it, John was going to be in it, then everybody’s schedules changed,” Lonergan said. “After a few permutations, Matt asked if I wanted to direct it. By that time, I had been working on it for a couple of years. It had come to be my own, in my mind anyway.”

Watch the video above.