Kenneth Lonergan

Playwright, Screenwriter, Director
Known for his insightful character studies and unique ability to draw real drama out of the outwardly mundane, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan boasted a career that was, in many ways, both impressive and surprising ... Read more »
Born: 10/15/1962 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Writer (7)

Manchester-by-the-Sea 2015 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Wild Oats 2015 (Movie)

(Writer)

Margaret 2011 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Gangs of New York 2002 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

You Can Count on Me 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Analyze This 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Director (3)

Manchester-by-the-Sea 2015 (Movie)

(Director)

Margaret 2011 (Movie)

(Director)

You Can Count on Me 2000 (Movie)

(Director)
Actor (3)

Margaret 2011 (Movie)

Karl (Actor)

Matthew Broderick 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

You Can Count on Me 2000 (Movie)

Ron--Priest (Actor)

Biography

Known for his insightful character studies and unique ability to draw real drama out of the outwardly mundane, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan boasted a career that was, in many ways, both impressive and surprising. After attracting significant early attention as a member of New York's Naked Angels theater company with his acerbic and insightful comedy-drama "This is Our Youth" in 1996, Lonergan earned his first screen credit as one of writers on the Robert De Niro-Billy Crystal hit comedy "Analyze This" (1999). After taking on a purely mercenary writing assignment for the film adaptation of "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" (2000), Lonergan displayed his true passion and understated talent with the low-key, but impactful family drama "You Can Count on Me" (2000). The film went on to earn widespread acclaim and helped launch the film career of longtime Lonergan friend and collaborator, Mark Ruffalo. Further stage works like 2000's "The Waverly Gallery" and script contributions to Martin Scorsese's sweeping "Gangs of New York" (2002) solidified the consensus that he was indeed an artist to watch. And then, nothing, until his sophomore feature film effort - filmed in 2005 - "Margaret" (2011) was given a limited release six years later, due to a bitter dispute between the writer-director and the studio over the movie's running time. While not the most prolific filmmaker of his generation, audiences could always count on a thought-provoking look at the lives of identifiable characters in any Lonergan offering.

Relationships

Nellie Lonergan

Daughter
born in 2002

J Smith-Cameron Actor

Companion

EDUCATION

HB Studios

New York , New York
took playwriting courses

New York University

New York , New York 1985

Wesleyan University

Middletown , Connecticut
left after one year

The Walden School

New York , New York
classmates included Matthew Broderick; began writing plays at the suggestion of drama teacher Bruce Cornwall

Milestones

2011

Wrote and directed the feature "Margaret" starring Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, and Mark Ruffalo; filming began in 2005, but spent over five years in post-production

2002

Nominated for Best Writing, Original Screenplay Academy Award for the Martin Scorsese-directed "Gangs of New York"

2001

Returned to the NYC stage with the play "Lobby Hero" starring Tate Donovan and Glenn Fitzgerald

2000

Wrote semi-autobiographical play "The Waverly Gallery" that was produced off-Broadway starring Eileen Heckart in a role modeled after his grandmother

2000

Feature directorial debut "You Can Count on Me" starring Ruffalo and Laura Linney; also wrote and played a minister in the film; debuted at Sundance Film Festival; nominated for Best Original Screenplay Academy Award

2000

Penned the screenplay for "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"; De Niro played Fearless Leader

1999

First produced screenplay "Analyze This," starring Robert De Niro; because other writers worked on the material, has never seen the finished film

1998

"This Is Our Youth" with Ruffalo in the cast opened off-Broadway to critical acclaim

1996

Expanded version of "Betrayal By Everyone" (now called "This Is Our Youth") premiered at the New Group; Ruffalo again played leading role

1993

Earned attention for one-act play "Betrayal By Everyone," featuring Mark Ruffalo

1990

Began career as a screenwriter, turning out a spec script (based on a story recounted by his stepfather) that eventually became "Analyze This"; sold screenplay to Warner Bros

1982

Won the first Young Playwrights Festival Award with play "The Rennings Children"

Raised in Manhattan

To support himself, wrote speeches for the Environmental Protection Agency and Weight Watchers, video presentations for Grace Chemicals, and comedy sketches for Fuji Films sales meetings

After graduating from NYU, became member of the Naked Angels theater company, where his plays were performed

Attended The Walden School; first met Matthew Broderick

Bonus Trivia

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In December 2001, Warner Bros. announced that the studio had signed Lonergan to adapt the T.H. White classic "The Once and Future King" as a feature film.

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"Everything has to be 'okay' in America. In our popular movies, the idea of a sad ending is completely gone. This has the unintended effect of making people for whom things don't work out feel very isolated. Not only did something terrible happen to them, but they're totally alone with it...Tragedy and sad stories have been around since the beginning of human history. The hallucination of the moment seems to be that people need a happy ending." – Lonergan quoted in Time Out New York, March 2-9, 2000

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"Screenwriting is a great way to make a living. It may eventually lead to artistic fulfillment. If you can stay in the independent world you can retain all the control." – Lonergan to Daily News, March 19, 2000

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"My apartment number is GRR, as in grrr. Many people feel it's appropriate for my personality. I characterize myself as a loveable curmudgeon." – Lonergan to Rolling Stone, April 13, 2000

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Kenneth Lonergan talked about his feature directing debut to Premiere magazine in April 2000. The "You Can Count on Me" director said, "I'm happy with how the film came out, but I didn't fall in love with directing the way some people do. I was shocked at how much pressure there was every day just to get the shot."Lonergan, who also appears in the film, added: "It was hard to edit myself. I just looked so good from so many different angles."

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"The fallacy is to think that writing can be done by a group, If executives took that approach with cinematography, there would be no movie. Of course, they realize they don't know anything about cinematography, but everybody knows how to read and write, so they think they can improve a script.I would love to do an experiment where you tell the studios, 'Half your movies will have no story consultation and no market research, and you have to advertise them as much as the others, which will have as much story consultation and as much market research as you want.' I swear to God there would be absolutely no difference in the amount of money those two sets of movies make.But a lot of people would be out of work, especially all the marketing people and all the development people." – Lonergan to the Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2000

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On directing for the first time, Lonergan confessed to Variety (July 31, 2000): "I looked around on the set one day and thought, 'There's only two actors in this entire movie that I haven't worked with or at least know from something else,' and that was really nice [because] I was always worried the crew thought I didn't know what I was doing."

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"Kenny is regarded as an extraordinary writer in the theater community. He's all about language, and yet his work is not about spectacle or showy plots. His characters feel real because he has such compassion for the people he writes about." – stage director Mark Brokaw quoted in The New York Times, November 17, 2000

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"I started out doing screenwriting as a way to make some money because playwriting doesn't pay very well, even if you're doing okay. I wrote the original script of 'Analyze This' about ten years ago and optioned it to [Warner Bros.] and that sort of got me started in screenwriting. About five years ago, when all these independent movies were being made, I thought I could write a movie to direct and not sell it or lose control over it, so I wrote 'You Can Count on Me.' Through the theater I hooked up with a lot of independent producers. A lot of them came to see 'This is Our Youth' and were very interested in producing it as a film, including John Hart and Jeff Sharp, so I gave them 'You Can Count on Me.'" – Lonergan to The New York Screenwriter Monthly, November/December 2000

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On Martin Scorsese's involvement with "You Can Count on Me," Lonergan told Emily Sumner of the British Web site 6 Degrees (www.6degrees.co.uk) in a December 2000 interview, "I'd met him over the years a few times and worked with him on various things and so I basically wanted final cut otherwise I wouldn't do the movie so I asked him if he would have final cut as the producers would all trust him. He wasn't involved too much on a day-to-day basis but if there was a conflict – and thankfully there weren't too many – he would supervise, really. When there was a question of the music he supported me in my choice and he also came into the final edit of the picture and made some minor suggestions, some of which I took and others I didn't, but obviously it was great just having him there."

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