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Jake Gyllenhaal calls TIFF film 'Stronger' his superhero movie

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, right, speaks alongside Jeff Bauman who he plays in the movie "Stronger" during a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan
September 09, 2017 - 1:57 PM

TORONTO - Jake Gyllenhaal says he's long been asked about starring in a superhero movie and is happy he's now made one.

Gyllenhaal stars with Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany in the Boston Marathon drama "Stronger," which made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film is based on the memoir by Jeff Bauman, who was featured in one of the most iconic photographs taken in the aftermath of the 2013 bombing.

The photo of the shocked, bloodied and ashen-faced 27-year-old being rushed away in a wheelchair was printed in newspapers around the world.

"Stronger" recreates how Bauman had been on the sidelines of the marathon to support his girlfriend and explores his recovery after both his legs were amputated.

Gyllenhaal says he was intimidated by the prospect of portraying Bauman and battled a sense of "fraudulence" as he worked on the role.

"A lot of people have asked me over my career in interviews with journalists, they've said, 'We hear you almost played this superhero,' or 'When are you going to do a superhero movie,' or something like that, and I feel like I finally kind of have," said Gyllenhaal at a TIFF press conference Saturday, adding that Bauman's story was also relatable.

"It's something that no matter what you're going through, I think you can relate to (it), no matter what you've been through in your life, Jeff shows you can get through it."

Maslany, who plays Bauman's then-girlfriend Erin Hurley, appreciated that the script presented the characters as authentic people with real flaws and complex relationships. The couple married in 2014 but announced the end of their relationship earlier this year.

"What the film does is break down that idea of a hero ... allowing for all the flaws and all the humanity of (real people)," said the "Orphan Black" star, adding that her portrayal of Hurley was "an artistic interpretation, by no means did I want to do an impersonation of her."

"Stronger" will be released in theatres on Sept. 22.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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