Hometown Pride: Boston Accents on Film

Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams in “The Fighter” (2010)

I’m a Boston gal at heart. When I moved to the Big Apple nearly 6 years ago, I retained something that could be considered a setback: my accent. I remember the first day of class at Circle in the Square Theatre School and the late K.C. Ligon telling me, “We need to work on that” upon hearing me speak. K.C. was a well-respected speech coach within the industry and I credit her and Ken Schatz with helping me ease up on my native dialect.  Fun Fact: K.C.’s mother was stage actress, Nora Dunfee, famous for her performance alongside Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump as the Elderly Southern Woman on the bench towards the end of the movie.

Being a Boston girl, I am always aware when actors can and cannot do a good “Boston Accent.” Most commonly, people think of the Boston accent as it is when done by Mark Wahlberg, Ben Affleck, or Matt Damon. But, like any accent, there are certain subtleties that set different sections of Massachusetts apart from another in terms of dialects. Katharine Hepburn, for example, had what is known as a Boston Brahmin accent which is more refined and often considered more “upper-class” than my standard, Boston accent. All I need to do to retain my accent is talk to my parents and I automatically revert back to my natural tongue.

On film, it always helps when there are actual Boston natives involved on the screen or behind-the-scenes within the production if set within the Boston area. Amy Ryan is said to have refined her speech from Jill Quigg, a local whom Ben Affleck ended up casting alongside Ryan in Gone Baby Gone (2007.) Quigg went on to appear alongside Christian Bale and fellow Boston native Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter (2010.)

As a person with a native Boston accent, I can tell you right now, that the actors I have found to be the most convincing with the accent (in recent years) are as follows: Christian Bale (The Fighter) Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)  Blake Lively (The Town) Amy Adams & Melissa Leo  (The Fighter.) But, there are those who tend to go overboard with their dialect and it sort of  sounds like they are making fun of us.  Not cool. To illustrate how good these actors do their accents, here are some clips. None of them are natives. Although, in all of these movies, at least one or two native speakers are in the films with them. Also, my acting coach, Ken Schatz, has always said that I need to get rid of my “moshpit” in regards to how I speak. You’ll notice that oftentimes, for as much as we elongate our “A”s and drop our “R”s, we also tend to mumble sometimes. These actors seem to pull of that characteristic well.
Blake Lively (The Town):

Amy Adams & Christian Bale (The Fighter):

Melissa Leo (The Fighter) She is probably the most stereotypical in terms of how people perceive the accent :


Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone):

And for the record, we don’t all swear that much. Well…maybe we do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s