Kenneth Lonergan

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Kenneth Lonergan
Kenneth Lonergan Viennale 2016 opening 4.jpg
Lonergan in Vienna, 2016
Born (1962-10-16) October 16, 1962 (age 54)
The Bronx, New York City, New York
Occupation Playwright, screenwriter, director
Alma mater Wesleyan University
New York University (NYU)
Notable works You Can Count on Me (2000)
Gangs of New York (2002)
Margaret (2011)
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Notable awards NSFC – Best Screenplay
NYFCC – Best Screenplay
2000 You Can Count on Me
Spouse J. Smith-Cameron (2000—present)
Children 1

Kenneth Lonergan (born October 16, 1962) is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director.

Background and education[edit]

Lonergan was born in the Bronx, New York City, New York. His mother is Jewish and his father is of Irish descent.[1] Lonergan began writing in high school at the Walden School (a now defunct, highly progressive private school in Manhattan with a strong drama program).

His first play, The Rennings Children, was chosen for the Stephen Sondheim founded Young Playwrights Inc. Young Playwright's Festival in 1982 while he was still an undergraduate. Lonergan matriculated to Wesleyan University where he trained as a playwright and director;[2] he would go on to graduate at the NYU Playwriting Program.

Government and commercial work[edit]

After graduating from NYU, Lonergan worked as a speechwriter for the Environmental Protection Agency. He also wrote industrial shows—long-play commercials—for clients such as Weight Watchers[3] and Fujifilm.



Lonergan's first theatrical success came with the play This is Our Youth (1996); it was followed by The Waverley Gallery (1999), based on his grandmother's Greenwich Village Gallery, and later Lobby Hero (2002). His play The Starry Messenger premiered Off-Broadway in 2009 and starred his wife J. Smith-Cameron and Matthew Broderick.[4]


Lonergan's film career began with his screenplay for the gangland comedy Analyze This (1999). He was subsequently offered a job writing The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000).

Lonergan directed his own screenplay for You Can Count on Me (2000); the film, which was executive produced by Martin Scorsese, went on to be nominated for and receive numerous writing awards.[5] He contributed to the screenplay for Gangs of New York (2002). In 2005, filming took place for his second film as writer/director, Margaret, starring Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick, and J. Smith-Cameron. The film spent over five years in post-production, with Lonergan, the producers and various editors unable to agree on its final cut, resulting in multiple legal disputes. It was finally released in 2011.[1] Margaret ranked 31st in a 2016 BBC poll of the 21st century's greatest films.[6]

Lonergan wrote and directed Manchester by the Sea, which was released in 2016 to critical acclaim.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Lonergan is married to actress J. Smith-Cameron. They have one daughter, Nellie.[8][9]



Year Title Notes
1982 The Rennings Children One-act
1993 Betrayal by Everyone One-act; would become This is Our Youth
1996 This Is Our Youth Nominated – Drama Desk Award for Best Play
2000 The Waverley Gallery Nominated – Pulitzer Prize for Drama
2001 Lobby Hero Nominated – Drama Desk Award for Best Play
Nominated – Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play and John Gassner Playwrighting Award
Nominated – Olivier Award for Best Play
2004 True to You One-act premiered at TriBeCa Theater Festival
2009 The Starry Messenger
2012 Medieval Play
2016 Hold On to Me Darling

Film and television[edit]

Year Title Credit Notes
Director Writer
1994 Doug Yes Episode: "Doug Throws a Party"
1999 Analyze This Yes Screenplay and story
2000 You Can Count On Me Yes Yes Co-starring role as Father Ron
AFI Award for Best Film
AFI Award for Best New Writer
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay
National Board of Review Top Ten Films of 2001
Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Drama
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Yes
2002 Analyze That Yes Screenplay and characters
Gangs of New York Yes Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay
2011 Margaret Yes Yes
2016 Manchester by the Sea Yes Yes


  1. ^ a b Brody, Richard (March 15, 2012). "Kenneth Lonergan". The New Yorker. 
  2. ^ Historical Dictionary of Contemporary American Theater, 1930-2010 - James Fisher - Google Books. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ Stephen Farber, "A Playwright in Pottsylvania," The Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2000.
  4. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. Cameron, Culkin, Hadary and More Will Join Cast of Starry Messenger' " (, September 18, 2009
  5. ^ "Kenneth Lonergan Awards" The New York Times
  6. ^ "The 21st Century's 100 greatest films". BBC. August 23, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  7. ^ Lewis, Andy (November 24, 2016). "How Matt Damon's Almost-Directorial Debut 'Manchester by the Sea' Became Another Helmer's Comeback". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ Vellela, Tony (October 5, 2001). "J. Smith-Cameron's role-changing, name-changing career". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  9. ^ "What's Up, J. Smith-Cameron? The Starry Star on Life, Art and Why She Loves Ben Brantley". Retrieved December 10, 2016. 

External links[edit]