Features, Interviews

THE GOOD SISTER AND THE PRETTY SISTER

By • Dec 22nd, 2013 •

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THE GOOD SISTER AND THE PRETTY SISTER
Bianca Hunter and Melissa McMeekin confess to the knock ’em sock ’em battles with the real sisters of Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund

On the set of LAUGH KILLER LAUGH, Kamal Ahmed’s feature starring William Forsythe, two jovial females are seated next to one another on a couch during an evening in which the intensity is running high. Their refulgent spirits ease a tense atmosphere poised to rise above the murk of combustible fallout from creative forces locking horns.

Bianca and Melissa appear to be sisters. Most probably twins, as they clutch one another, and their sentences overlap as each one champions the other’s accomplishments.

Bianca Hunter’s personal life in written form would be a voluminous epic. A native New Yorker, she has been part of its music, film, and celebrity scene her entire life. Destined for film, as a toddler she shared the screen with Al Pacino in SERPICO. A mainstay of the New York Indy scene, Hunter has appeared in films such as TREE’S LOUNGE, CHELSEA WALLS, 1,000 TIMES MORE BRUTAL, and BAD LIEUTENANT. With each, she has a fascinating backstory about the unusual way that her life is connected to them.

Christian Slater and Bianca Hunter

Melissa McMeekin speaks with an Irish accent. With her red hair, the assumption the accent is genuine is incorrect. It’s a technique that Christian Bale taught her that she is now employing for the role of “Typhoid” Mary Mallon in Steven Soderbergh’s, THE KNICK. The Washington native’s involvement with community-theater at twelve years old put her in the same circles as fellow Bellingham resident, Hillary Swank. Testament to her craft was in her resolve as a 19 year old to continue her pursuit of film acting when her newborn son reached his late teens. Melissa continued her stage work and, as if Dionysus blessed her, two months prior to her son’s sixteenth birthday she landed her first major role in THE FIGHTER.

Melissa McMeekin and Hillary Swank

Tonight, Melissa is shooting her scene as a woman accosted in bed by a masked man played by actor James Lorinz (STREET TRASH, FRANKENHOOKER). Bianca suggested her friend for this role as well as her husband (Robert Macnaughton, notable as the older brother in E.T), for another. Although neither Robert nor Bianca are scheduled this evening, the trio proves to be what they claim, best friends.

Details emerge about the two women; their personal struggles, the route laden with detours to treacherous and dark roads, and their drive to continue onward. Each attributes their paths crossing to kismet. Their musings are comedic as well as tragic. Each tale is embroiled in the fantastic and the outrageous. One may disbelieve, but to use the popular phrase, you just can’t make this stuff up.

After the first round of auditioning for THE FIGHTER in NY, Bianca was asked to take the train to Boston to meet director David O. Russell. There, she will undergo her second audition Melissa will be on her fifth. This go around is an arduous five-hour process enclosed in a room with a number of hopefuls, including Erica McDermott and Natasha Lyonne. Melissa states, “[Natasha] was the first person that I saw. I said, I don’t even know why I’m here. So I might as well just have fun, which I did.” With twelve girls present, and two roles cast in L.A., only five roles were available. Initially meeting one another, Bianca and Melissa agree that they “connected right away.”

Interestingly, prior to her Boston trip, Bianca was provided with interview footage of the sisters that the director filmed. She did share this with the others at the casting session.

ON THE CASTING PROCESS

Melissa: He gave us each a sister to play. In fact, the sister that he gave me, he never had me do a different one and he cast me as that. All the others roles were eventually filled by maneuvering and shifting through, selecting and reselecting.
Bianca: He pegged us for the two sisters that he cast us as.
Melissa: Neither one of us had to leave the room, the others had to…and we were in the corner like this (hugging and clutching) for five hours.

He would shout out lines to us. At one point, I’m going to be really tough because he wanted tough girls and I’m not a tough girl by nature.

At this point, Melissa whispered something inaudible to Bianca and continues the story, “I’m just going to do it. And all of the sudden David Russell goes, Noooo!” After pressing her to reveal what she had said, replying with such politesse, softly,
“C U Next Tuesday.” Continuing on, David Russell explained to her, “Little Alice never swears, she’s a good Catholic girl. She doesn’t swear at all.”

No sides were provided from the Scott Silver script. It was all improv. From this casting session came the improved lines that found their way into the film. Bianca stated, “David O. Russell was furiously writing down everything that we said. My famous line, ‘She’s like one of them MTV girls’, Erica McDermott said that in the audition.” Melissa added, “He’s never in video village. In the middle of a scene, he will alter lines.”

Melissa and Bianca on the set of THE FIGHTER

SISTERS

Ahh. The sisters. Any attempts to vitiate their family’s less than upstanding reputation is undone by the very attitude which has made them infamous.

Bianca: The real sisters were always hovering the set.
Melissa: Mine wasn’t. Hers was all the time.
Bianca: Yours was a bitch. She would go the production office and raise a stink. She said you were a skank. She said ‘Some little skank is playing me.’
Melissa: They made Bianca’s teeth darker.
Bianca: I had a dead tooth too. All the sisters had messed up teeth. The sister I was playing was on the set all of the time, she was an extra in several scenes. So, we do this bar scene-
Melissa: Remember, she’s standing there, and she’s like, I don’t think I like the fact that her teeth are dark like that. David said, ‘To be fair you are missing a couple of your teeth.’
Bianca: But, the sisters wanted to kill us. They were really mad. Well, when my sister was on the set with us once, and I came out, she went over to the director, and she was mad that I had the dead tooth. He said, ‘What are you talking about? She’s gorgeous like Cindy Crawford. You’ve got someone that looks like Cindy Crawford and you’re complaining to me?’ And then she felt stupid.
Melissa: We did a screening for them, it was just for the people in Lowell. I went into the bathroom and four of the sisters came in. I didn’t want to leave the stall. I stood in the stall and listened to them. They were mad that they didn’t think that their mother was being portrayed in a nice way.
Bianca: They didn’t like the way that they were portrayed. They walked out of the movie. They were furious.
Melissa: But, what they were talking about in the bathroom was, they said, I can’t believe the way they’re making mom look.
Bianca: He went easy on the mom and the sisters. Originally, everybody was portrayed worse. All the sisters were on drugs and high and he got such a backlash within one or two weeks, he said tone it down, tone it down, the sisters aren’t going to be like that anymore.
Melissa: Dicky got really mad because one of the sisters had a bit of a drug problem and now had cancer.
Bianca: (sarcastically) One of the sisters had a drug problem?
Melissa: What we did in the movie was only about a quarter of what was filmed.
Bianca: We really got cut out. We had all these great scenes.
Melissa: Because the movie wasn’t about us.
Bianca: Ultimately, David felt that the sisters worked more as a unit like an entity, that’s what he told me.
Melissa: We were like one character.
Both admit that they wish to watch the cut scene in which they are the only two sisters with Melissa Leo and Jack McGee as Melissa’s character is packing.
Melissa: I met Quentin Tarantino at a party after the SAG awards, and he said, ‘What I like most about the sisters, you just watch the movie, and at the very beginning you know there is just a back story there and as soon as you see the sisters, the entire back story is told to you.’
Bianca: You know what happened that night. We were nominated for best ensemble. So we go to the after party, we all got drunk, we were all walking around barefoot. Mark Wahlberg got stuck at the table watching our shoes…he was afraid our shoes would get stolen, all of our fancy high heels. We went to THE SOCIAL NETWORK corner. That was one of the movies nominated that year. THE KING’S SPEECH won, we were so pissed.
Melissa: We got robbed. Let’s face it.
Bianca: There’s no ensemble. Don’t get us started.
Melissa: There were four people.
Bianca: But, SOCIAL NETWORK also lost. It’s roped off. There was THE FIGHTER corner and right next to us was THE SOCIAL NETWORK corner. So, all of THE FIGHTER sisters were with Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer.
Bianca: We all got trashed. Harvey Weinstein says, come to my house. That’s where they met Quentin Tarantino.
Melissa: But, she was in love so she didn’t go.
Bianca: I was the only sister, like, fuck that. I’m with ‘ET Boy’ and he’s waiting for me at the Roosevelt Hotel. He was my first movie crush. I was twelve.

At the SAG Awards

Both, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won Best Actor in respective categories at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Academy Awards, and Golden Globes. The duo won several nominations from various other organizations as supporting cast members.

Bianca: We screamed so outrageously when Melissa Leo won. All the cameras came and were filming us. It was great.
Melissa: I heard a report afterwards that they were mostly disappointed that THE FIGHTER didn’t win best ensemble because they were looking forward to the sisters storming the stage.
Bianca: We were going to bum rush the stage. Mark thought we were going to win too. He had his arms around us, okay girls, what is our acceptance speech going to be?
Melissa: Mark said, we are going to win tonight. And I said, what are you going to do if we don’t? Are you going to throw a champagne bottle up there? He said, yes that one there. My favorite line from THE FIGHTER is when Melissa Leo says,’ Excuse me, I don’t even know who you are or why you’re talking.’ When THE KING’S SPEECH won I wanted to stand up and say that.

HAIR AND MAKEUP

Melissa: The first day was hair. We all had to go to hair day. First you dye your hair. For the audition, when the casting director called, she asked if I can do 80’s hair. All I remembered about 80s was we had tight perms. So, I actually rolled my hair in perm curlers when it was wet then teased it. Every single night after we’d wrap I’d go home, wash my hair, put it in curlers. I would take it out on the way to the set and I would come in with these tight curls and then they would tease it.
Bianca: I looked like Doris Day in the movie. They teased my hair like the Beehive from the 60’s.
Melissa: It was actually fun. It was the clothes for me like, you want me to put that on?
Bianca: Acid-washed jeans up to your ribcage. Whoa.
Melissa: It was actually the hardest for Bianca out of any of us I think, because she has the tattoos on her arm that had to be covered.
Bianca: I had to be in the trailer all those extra hours with Mark who was also getting his tattoos covered.
Melissa: I’m supposing that it wasn’t that bad. Maybe it wasn’t as awful as I was feeling for her.
Melissa: There wasn’t that much makeup involved. We didn’t get a lot. Fake teeth. Let’s make your eyes a little bit darker and make your skin a little ruddy. It wasn’t that bad.
Bianca: Half-way through I got to wear mascara, everybody got mad.
Melissa: I got lip gloss.
Bianca: A week into it, David started naming the different sisters. I was the pretty sister. I got to wear mascara and blush. Remember that?
Melissa: I was the good sister, I was the good girl.
Bianca: She was the good girl, Little Alice.
Melissa: David did tell me that in real life, Little Alice is his favorite sister out of them all. He gets along with her best.
Melissa: I don’t mind playing characters that aren’t real glamorous. It keeps the bar so low. When people see me, all I have to do is wash my hair and they say I am pretty in real life.
Bianca: Nobody knew it was us.
Melissa: People on the red carpet couldn’t believe we were the fighter sisters.


The cast of THE FIGHTER


ACCENT

Bianca: The Boston accent. That was hard. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were always in character. They used their Boston accent constantly, from the second they showed up in the morning to dinner. They were living with their accents. Lot of the sisters were really from Massachusetts. We didn’t have that accent. I’m from New York.
Melissa: And I’m from Seattle originally. One of the sisters who ended up not doing a lot of stuff because she had a substance abuse problem was living in a halfway house in a town that’s next to me while we were filming. She would talk to me and tell me stories all the way there. This was my first conversation with her:
[NOTE: No grawlexes are used for the excessive profanity. Presented in true textual form brings the sister’s personality to light.]

(In the thickest Boston accent in a rapid tempo): ‘Melisser, I fuckin’ called Boston casting and I told them we got a fuckin’ problem. I live in fuckin’ Gloucester and I don’t have a fuckin’ car and they said that, oh it is a problem and I said your goddamn right it’s a fuckin’ problem. It’s not my fuckin’ problem, it’s your fuckin’ problem. What the fuck you gonna do about it? And their fuckin’ solution is to call another actah, not that I mind drivin’ with yas, but what the fuck is that about?’

That was my first conversation with her. Everyday, I had to pick her up because she was going to a halfway house in Gloucester, and the town I live in is surrounded by water on three sides and Gloucester on the other and there’s no way out other than Gloucester. I had to drive through it and Boston and casting knew it. And she didn’t have a car and they sort of asked me if I wouldn’t mind stopping and picking her up. I’m pretty congenial [and told her] you know we’re being hired as local hires. She said, ‘that’s not the fuckin’ point, when I was in GONE BABY GONE, Ben Affleck had a fuckin’ town cop pick me up every fuckin’ morning and take me to…and every night take me back…’
Everyday, I picked her up and that’s how I got my accent. Just listening to her speak (for five weeks).

Bianca: We had some scenes with Christian in a bar. The sister I was playing was an extra at the bar. I don’t think that should be done. They shouldn’t be an extra in your scene. After every take she would rush over to me. ‘I would never say that! I would never wear my hair like that!’ Finally Christian said, ‘She had nothing to do with that! If you have a problem go talk to the director and the producer is right there!’

With that the bell sounds and this round is over.

Read the original Films In Review article on THE FIGHTER:
http://69.195.124.61/~filmsinr/2010/12/26/mark-wahlbergs-the-fighter-and-boxing-in-cinema-round-one/a>

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3 Responses »

  1. Sharp, entertaining, and a pleasure to read. Mr. Frassetti is a very talented writer, and handsome too!

  2. Awesome stories!!! Loved the movie, love hearing the back stories!! Let’s hear more from the two pretty sistahs!!!!

  3. The sistas were an amazing part of the awesome film! LOVED THEM!!!
    I need more of them!

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