Jake Gyllenhaal has said he finally feels like he’s played a superhero with his latest movie Stronger.
The actor portrays Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, in the film.
Gyllenhaal said: “A lot of people ask me, ‘When are you going to play a superhero?’ and now I feel like I finally kind of have.”
He described Bauman as “a total inspiration to me”, as the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.
“What I’ve learned from this movie is being vulnerable, being open, everything Jeff shares about the imperfections of himself, that makes him one of the strongest people I know.”
A photograph taken of Bauman immediately after the bombing showed him being pushed in a wheelchair by paramedics after losing both his legs in the blast, which left three people dead.
The image became synonymous with the attack and Bauman later published a memoir, on which the film is based.
“It’s a real honour to have this happen, it’s surreal for me,” said Bauman of the making of Stronger.
He joked that he’d “never seen any of Jake’s movies” before the film was made, but then admitted that he’d actually seen practically all of them and was a big fan of the actor.
Speaking about his public perception since the bombing, Bauman said: “I don’t like being called a hero.
“The people that saved my life, the people that pulled me off the ground, the police, the paramedics, those are the true heroes. There’s heroes all around.”
Gyllenhaal also serves as a producer on the film, which is released in the UK in December.
The actor said: “I was really intimidated to meet Jeff. There’s no way that any of us could really match the reality of what he and his family went through on this journey.
“But we share a similar sense of humour, there’s just something about our connection. David [Gordon, the director] was right in wanting me to play this part because we have a lot of similarities.”
Asked whether they now share a bromance, the actor jokingly started stroking Jeff’s prosthetic leg before agreeing that they do.
The pair are currently promoting the film in Toronto alongside Gordon, screenwriter John Pollono and cast members Miranda Richardson and Tatiana Maslany.
“I’m not geared up for getting thrown out on the red carpet like Jake is,” Bauman said, “I’m like ‘What do I do?'”
“But I love going home and hanging out with my dog and daughter, that’s what I live for, so it’s a good balance, and that’s what you need.”