Jake Gyllenhaal, fresh off an acclaimed turn in the so-so Southpaw, is circling another potent dramatic role.
The now A-list actor is in talks to star in Stronger, the powerful true story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs in the attack. Studio executives have met with multiple leading men to discuss the role, but sources say Gyllenhaal is the favorite to reel it in, with a formal offer expected shortly, Variety reports.
Stronger will for some reason be helmed by David Gordon Green, whose previous directing credits include screwball stoner comedy Pineapple Express and HBO’s darkly comic Eastbound and Down. Screenwriter John Pollono adapted Stronger’s script, his first full-length feature, from the book of the same name written by Bauman with Bret Witter.
Stronger follows the aftermath of the devastating 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260, including Bauman—he was cheering for his girlfriend at the marathon finish line when the blast occurred. A photo of an ashen-faced and bloodied Bauman being wheeled away from the scene remains one of the tragedy’s most indelible images—view it here if you wish, but be warned, it is quite graphic.
Bauman underwent numerous life-saving surgeries, and when he awoke the day after the bombing and found himself unable to speak, he requested a pad and paper. Bauman wrote: “Saw the guy. Looked right at me.” Those seven words sparked one of the largest manhunts in American history, a fraught operation that ended with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest and subsequent conviction.
If cast as expected, Gyllenhaal will depict Bauman’s attempts to transcend his life-altering injuries and rise above despair, transforming from an aimless deli counter worker into a man driven by determination and compassion. “I saw the bomber,” Bauman wrote in his book. “He took my legs, but he didn’t break me. He only made me stronger.”
Stronger is without a release date for the time being. Read Variety’s full report here.