“This movie means a lot to me because somewhere over the course of making it, I started believing in myself,” the actor, 19, said during his acceptance speech Sunday night.
“I owe that to [director] Kenneth Lonergan,” he continued. “Like probably most actors in this room, I spend a lot of time hating on myself. Kenny didn’t let me do that, and he pushed me to a place of quality of work that I could be proud of, and I love myself more than I did going into it. And that’s all I want as an actor — is to love myself more,” he added with a chuckle.
In the film, Hedges plays a scrappy New England teenager named Patrick who is forced to live with his Uncle Lee, played by fellow nominee Casey Affleck, after his fisherman father dies. Patrick, desperate to move on from the loss, finds himself at odds with his uncle, who can not escape the past.
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During his acceptance speech, Hedges thanked Affleck for speaking up when he needed more time in a scene. “Thank you for teaching me to stand up for myself — not that I did, but for teaching me how,” he said with a laugh.
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Hedges also thanked his mom “for making me breakfast every single morning,” adding that “I think I would have been crippled by fear if it hadn’t been for her.”
Manchester by the Sea, in theaters now, is also nominated for best picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards.