Matt Damon Reveals He Once Was Attached to Direct and Star in 'Manchester by the Sea' | Producer Oscar Roundtable

The 'Martian' star explains how Kenneth Lonergan came to helm the film and why Casey Affleck was his first choice to fill the lead role.

"I think the smartest thing I did as a producer was replacing myself," Matt Damon told THR during the Producer Oscars Roundtable. The actor, screenwriter and producer revealed he once was set to direct and star in Manchester by the Sea, written by and (eventually) directed by Kenneth Lonergan.

"It was just clearly a Kenny Lonergan movie," said Damon. Still set to star in the leading role, Damon then ran into scheduling conflicts while shooting The Martian, and the role eventually went to Casey Affleck. "Casey, I think, is once of the most spectacular actors around. He's also like a little brother to me. I grew up with him."

More roundtables featuring actors and actresses, screenwriters, songwriters, directors, composers and documentary filmmakers will continue to roll out throughout February in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With 'The Hollywood Reporter' starting Jan. 15 on Sundance TV, and look for clips at THR.com/topic/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.

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