Matt Damon made his film debut in Mystic Pizza, a small indie film from 1988 starring Julia Roberts (whom he later co-starred in Ocean’s 11,) Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, and Vincent D’Onofrio. He had one line: “Mom, do you want my green stuff?” He is now one of the most successful screenwriters and actors ever. Mystic Pizza has always been one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. It’s a movie I go to in order to unwind. It’s also a movie that makes me crave pizza and lobster. Do you ever notice that when you watch something, if the actors are eating, you might just end up wanting whatever they are having? Sort of like the old woman in When Harry Met Sally, without the fake orgasm. There also happens to be a REAL MYSTIC PIZZA in Mystic, CT. It’s where screenwriter, Amy Holden Jones got the idea for the movie in the first place. Since the movie, business boomed and you can even find your own Mystic Pizza in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Then, you can go home and eat while you watch the movie, Mystic Pizza. How very metaphysical. So kick off your weekend with this movie and a slice of pizza. Throw in a cold beer while your at it.
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.
A fellow Boston-born actor, Edward Norton, made his film debut in 1996 with Primal Fearbeating out 2, 100 other actors for the role, including Matt Damon. Apparently,” When Norton met with the director for Primal Fear (1996), he told them that he, like Aaron, came from eastern Kentucky. Norton even spoke with the twang, which he prepared by watching Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980.)”–From IMDB. Additionally, “According to the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes information, it was Edward Norton’s idea to stutter as “Aaron,” as it appeared nowhere in the original book or script. In addition, when “Roy” shoves Vail (Richard Gere) against the prison cell wall, Gere’s shocked reaction is genuine, as that was another Norton ad-lib. Yet another Norton ad-lib is Roy’s slow clap at the end just before the exposition when Vail realized what had happened.”–From IMDB.
Edward Norton has always been an interesting actor for me to keep up with. He’s intelligent (he went to Yale.) He’s multilingual (he speaks Spanish and Japanese.) The fact that he managed to fool the casting director and production team with his accent is really impressive too. He’s gone on to star in blockbuster films and even received an Oscar nomination for his film debut. I think he was amazing in the role, and the praise is more than justified. I’d love to work with him one day, just to witness his process. I’ve always been impressed with this film and with his performance.