The Fighter is a wonderful movie, with a core set of impressive performances by Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams and the quiet Mark Wahlberg. But one of the most memorable aspects of the film is the cadre of shrill, nattering and high-haired women who are sisters to Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Bale). In a handful of scenes, the women make quite an impression as they provide some antagonistic energy towards Amy Adams’ character, and support the efforts of their mother (Leo). If The Fighter had been written by Sophocles, the sisters would be the chorus.

But who are they? Some of the magic of the characters is that, in the midst of a very recognizable trio of leads (and Melissa Leo, who is probably not as immediately recognizable to many audiences) the actresses playing the sisters are enigmas. Some of them seem like they could have been plucked off the streets of Lowell, MA, where the film was shot. Indeed, some of them were, but one of them had previous experience acting opposite Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, and another is the sister of Conan O’Brien.

The LA Times did a little digging and talking, and reveals some of the personalities behind the characters. Bianca Hunter plays the sister unceremoniously nicknamed Pork, but you’ve probably seen her before. She played the one of the Jersey Girls that had an explicit encounter with Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant. If you’ve seen the movie, you remember the scene.

And Kate O’Brien, who plays Beaver, is the sister of Conan O’Brien, though she kept that aspect of her identity secret from the rest of the cast until the end of the shoot.

And then there’s Jill Quigg, who throws a punch at the character played by Amy Adams when the Ward/Eklund clan shows up on Adams’ doorstep. Quigg is a Quincy, MA native who also appeared in Gone Baby Gone, but was arrested in October for  breaking and entering, larceny and and wanton destruction of property.

Not all the performances are knockouts, but they certainly feel real and very much part of Lowell. (I’ve worked in Lowell a few times, and the whole film captured part of the spirit of the town in a very recognizable way.) The LA Times gives a lot more detail on the actresses, and a bit on the real sisters, several of whom were on set constantly throughout the shoot. I can’t really imagine how intimidating it would be to play a real person when that person was sitting ten feet away, especially when some of the personalities are outspoken as these.

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