Casey Affleck emerges from brother Ben’s shadow with Oscar win

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Casey Affleck poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Actor during the 89th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday (Monday in Manila), in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO

HOLLYWOOD: Casey Affleck completed his awards season victory lap on Sunday (Monday in Manila) with a best actor Oscar for his restrained, devastating performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s family drama “Manchester by the Sea.”

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The American actor had already picked up a Golden Globe and British Bafta for the acclaimed turn, but he had to hold off a late surge from “Fences” star Denzel Washington to pick up his first Academy Award.

“One of the first people who taught me how to act was Denzel Washington, and I just met him tonight for the first time. Thank you,” the laconic 41-year-old star said as he accepted the golden statuette.

The win—which comes a decade after his best supporting actor nomination for Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”—sees him finally come out of the shadow of his more famous brother Ben, 44, who has Oscars for writing and producing.

His portrayal of a janitor forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies earned him early frontrunner status for best actor, although much of the betting shifted to Washington in the final weeks.

The awards buzz around the younger Affleck has also brought unwelcome renewed attention to 2010 sexual harassment allegations that threatened to derail his march to Tinseltown’s top table.

Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka, the producer and cinematographer on his poorly-received directorial debut, mockumentary “I’m Still Here,” sued Affleck for what they described as repeated sexual harassment.

The star, who has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing, employed the services of celebrity lawyer Marty Singer—known as “Hollywood’s guard dog”—and settled for an undisclosed amount in both cases.

Massachusetts native

Born in Falmouth, Massachusetts to a school teacher mother and social worker father, Affleck started out appearing in mostly obscure firms or supporting roles in movies starring his brother or childhood friend Matt Damon.

The year 2007 was a fruitful one for the actor, who notched up not only his Oscar-nominated turn in “Jesse James,” but also his acclaimed starring role in the Miramax film “Gone Baby Gone.”

Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same title, it was his brother’s directorial debut and earned co-star Amy Ryan nominations at the Oscars and Golden Globes.

A starring role in Brett Ratner comedy “Tower Heist” and a supporting part in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” were the highlight of his handful of roles in the intervening years before Lonergan cast him in “Manchester.”

Affleck can next be seen opposite Rooney Mara, shrouded in a bed sheet and largely silent, in David Lowery’s “Ghost Story,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

In a complimentary review, Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge described Affleck as a “low-charisma mumbler who tends to keep his characters’ emotions bottled up.”

Affleck has just begun principal photography on “Light of My Life,” a survival drama he is directing and starring in, which is due for release in 2018. AFP
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