Boston marathon survivor Jeff Bauman knows Jake Gyllenhaal worked “really hard” on portraying him in upcoming drama Stronger – but says his Boston accent could have used some work.
“It was alright,” teased Bauman of Gyllenhaal’s articulation during a joint appearance on Today, Friday.
Gyllenhaal laughed in response, “That’s actually a compliment, so I’ll take that… He’s like, ‘Eh, two out of five stars.’ ”
In Stronger, Gyllenhaal portrays Bauman – who lost both his legs during the bomb attack during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, which killed three people and injured several hundred others. He was waiting for his then-girlfriend, Erin Hurley – portrayed by Tatiana Maslany – to finish the race.
The image of Bauman being rushed to medical assistance in a wheelchair by then-stranger Carlos Arredondo became one of the most harrowing and prominent photos to come out of the attacks. Bauman’s 2014 memoir about his painful journey to walking again with aid from two protheses serves as the inspiration for the film.
Watching the film – which follows the bombing, as well as Bauman’s road to recovery – was “very surreal,” he said. Some of his actual medical team is featured in the movie, he noted, adding, “All that stuff really hits me hard.”
In preparation for the role, Gyllenhaal spent significant time with Bauman, as well as in the Boston area meeting with several bombing survivors, and touring the area hospitals where many of them were treated.
“I felt a huge responsibility, not only to Jeff – first and foremost – but to his family and to the city of Boston and to anybody who really saw that photograph or had any feelings about what happened that day,” shared Gyllenhaal on Friday.
He added that he loved tapping into Bauman’s “incredible sense of humor,” and getting to know “just the incredible community around him.”
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Stronger hits theaters on Sept. 22.