Jake Gyllenhaal felt like a ‘fraud’ meeting Boston bomb hero Jeff Bauman ahead of new film Stronger

Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger

ON April 15, 2013, life as Jeff Bauman knew it changed forever.

Running the Boston Marathon, he lost both legs when the event was the target of a bombing attack by two brothers.

Jeff wrote a book about his experiences, and a film adaptation of it, Stronger, is out this week.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff, it’s the moving story of the Costco worker’s determination to get better and to learn to walk again.

Jeff actually saw one of the suspected bombers and was able to help police with their enquiries.

“I remember everything,” Jeff says.

“I can’t Google my name. I love the articles, but I scroll down and I see the images and that gives me an instant flashback to the pool of blood that I was lying in.”

He revealed how he wasn’t far from one of the bombers, who had placed the bomb at Jeff’s feet minutes before the explosion.

“You could tell people who were there for the marathon because everyone was watching it and having fun,” Jeff explains.

“It was a beautiful day. Everyone was clapping and cheering. It was a fun atmosphere. It was great.

“This guy was standing holding his backpack and not talking to anybody and wasn’t with anyone.

“I wondered what he was doing. He was kind of weird and out of place.

“Even in the ambulance ride, I was trying to say something,” he reveals of his crucial information he provided to the emergency services to assist them in the investigation.

“I just wanted to get a face out there and I wanted to help.”

In the end, the fact that Jeff was able to help identify the bomber meant that the authorities were able to prevent a further attack planned for New York, making Jeff a hero.

“I’m just glad they couldn’t hurt anyone else,” he says. “I know they shot that officer, and that’s horrible.

“But I know they had plans for New York and they would have injured a lot more people.”

While Jeff gains some comfort from knowing that he did his bit to help, he does have to keep himself busy to cope with the aftermath.

“Being active and being out and doing stuff helps to take my mind off everything,” he explains.

“You can’t think what would have happened if I had done things differently that day.

“You can’t really replay it because it’s in the past. You’ve got to move forward.”

Of course, it wasn’t always possible for Jeff to be able to speak of the future and moving on from those tragic events.

As the film shows, Jeff found it extremely difficult to adapt to life without his legs.

Jake Gyllenhaal is only too aware of what Jeff went through and, for that reason, was worried about meeting him.

“I was really, really nervous — I was intimidated actually,” he confesses.

“I felt like a bit of a fraud.

“We pretend, you know? That’s what I do as an actor.

“And so all of a sudden, to meet the real guy who had gone through all this, you just think: ‘What am I doing?’”

Stronger is in cinemas from Friday, December 8.

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