‘The Fighter’ in Real Life

Danielle Levitt

Director David O. Russell asked acclaimed photographer Danielle Levitt to head to Lowell, Mass., to document Dicky, Micky and the entire hardscrabble town (population 103,000) that inspired the Oscar-nominated movie.

When The Fighter director David O. Russell asked photographer Danielle Levitt to document the people of gritty Lowell, Mass., on which his film is based, it made perfect sense to her. “My work is really rooted in understanding people and culture, and the characters that are part of that movie are so rich and dynamic,” says Levitt, a Los Angeles native who now calls New York home. She has shown at New York’s Deitch gallery, and her work is in the private collections of Marc Jacobs and Neil Patrick Harris.

Levitt traveled to Lowell in December and captured Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, the half-brothers whose complex relationship is portrayed by Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in the movie; several of their sisters; and some of the locales and personalities she found in the working-class city.


Russell says that Levitt’s work jibes with the “very real, gritty, documentary-like feeling” of his film. “We wanted a photographer who felt that. She really had a passion for this. She went up to Lowell on her own dime.”

A limited edition book of Levitt’s photos,which were recently showcased at Los Angeles’ Known Gallery, will be published later this year.