What We Know: Stronger


By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

April 15, 2013 brought tragedy at the Boston Marathon with a bombing that killed three and wounded more than 260 others. Survivor Jeff Bauman became a symbol of hope in adversity for Boston and the world who watched. This fall, his true story will be coming to the big screen with the film Stronger. Read on to find out what we know about the project so far!

Based on the memoir “Stronger” by Bauman and Bret Witter, Stronger was adapted into a screenplay by John Pollono. The film adaptation will follow the real life journey of Bauman from the events of the bombing and Bauman’s helpful identification of one of the bombing suspects for the police to his struggle to walk again and adjust to life after losing both his legs in the explosions at the finish line of the marathon.

Stronger is the second movie about the bombing of the Boston Marathon, following Patriot’s Day starring Mark Wahlberg. Where Patriot’s Day provided an overall examination of the event, Stronger will take 110 minutes to focus on a more personal story with plenty of “feels,” and the promise of tears.

You can get a look at the intense first trailer for the upcoming movie here:

Development of the emotionally-driven Stronger began in July 2014 with Lionsgate getting Pollono on board to write the screenplay for the flick. A year later in July 2015, David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) signed on to direct and Jake Gyllenhaal began talks to star. October of the same year brought Tatiana Maslany on board, with further casting continuing into April 2016 when filming finally kicked off in Boston.

Stronger is produced by Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment, Mandeville Films, Bold Films, and Nine Stories – a foray into production by Gyllenhaal himself. Gyllenhaal is joined in production by Michel Litvak, Scott Silver, Toddy Lieberman, and David Hoberman. Director Green is joined by cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and music composer Michael Brook.

The film promises to be the inspirational and feel-good flick that the American film audience loves. When asked what drew him to the project, director Green stated, “The universal spirit that I think this story invites is something beyond just the specificity of this incident and more to the themes that we can all relate to, the hardships that we experience ourselves or we experience through other people.”

The film will attempt to be more than a simple tear-jerker. The director told Entertainment Tonight, “You’re in for a ride. That certainly expresses a side of the emotional intensity of the movie, but you might be surprised to find a good sense of humor woven in there as well. Expect a few chuckles alongside a tear or two.”

That humor is what drew David Gordon Green to cast Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman in Stronger. The director reportedly didn’t consider anyone else for the role. He understood Gyllenhaal’s dedication to the craft, but also saw an underlying humor in the actor even in dramatic roles. That humor was reminiscent of Bauman which made the director sure that Gyllenhaal was the right choice for the part.

Gyllenhaal is joined by Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as Jeff Bauman’s girlfriend Erin Hurley. Other cast includes Miranda Richardson as Bauman’s mother Patty Bauman, Clancy Brown as Bauman’s father (Jeff Bauman Sr.), Frankie Shaw as Erin’s sister Gail Hurley, Jimmy LeBlanc as Larry, and Patty O’Neil as Aunt Jenn.

Green further told Entertainment Tonight that he, Gyllenhaal, and others worked closely with Bauman and others involved in the real life events of the story in order to get everything right. Gyllenhaal reportedly took the process very seriously, interacting with Bauman and compiling “hundreds of pages of research” not only about Jeff and his story, but “the world around him – from the events of the marathon to…you name it.”

Will the movie truly embody the amazingly resilient Boston spirit? You’ll have to give the film a look this fall and find out! Just in time for the peak of award season, Stronger is slated for a U.S. release on September 22, 2017. Might we see Gyllenhaal snagging the elusive best actor Oscar this year for his role in the film? (I don’t know about you, but I’ve got my fingers crossed, based on the trailer alone!)

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