The Kenneth Lonergan-directed drama starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges and Kyle Chandler, is about a man who comes to be the guardian of his teenage nephew at the same time that he is coping with monumental grief.
Damon recently revealed in an episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast that Lonergan had a different, perhaps more emotional, ending for the movie in mind.
While it doesn’t seem all that different from what was in the final product, Damon explains why he thinks it would have been great, but also why it couldn’t happen.
Damon said: “I love ‘Manchester,’ I’m incredibly proud of it, but Kenny had an ending—there was this scene where they were on the boat that the whole movie’s kind of about, and it was a flashback to before Casey’s kids had died, before his brother had died, when he was still married to Michelle [Williams], and they were all on this boat and they were whale watching. It’s this incredible moment of joy and you see this family all together and then these whales start breaching out of the water.
“You needed [a] fucking drone cam, I mean it was one day of shooting and you gotta get lucky with the whales, but either way we could’ve figured that out. It was this epic [scene], so as the camera pulls back as this family is experiencing this incredible joy—and you know it’s about to go horribly wrong for them—the camera’s pulling up, up, up and it reveals all of these other boats all around it, and it’s all of these other families watching these whales and it’s like this is one little story in this sea of stories. It was epic and it was beautiful and it tied the whole thing together, and we ran out of money [laughs]. It was like, ‘fuck.’”
Instead, audiences saw a more reserved, personal ending, which featured a flashback to fishing on a boat. While similar, the smaller scope of the ending doesn’t reveal the “sea of stories” message that Lonergan and Damon were hoping for. Still, the ending they ended up with was far from disappointing and the film didn’t suffer from the change.