Following “Southpaw’s” strong performance at the box office, Jake Gyllenhaal looks to have his eye on another underdog tale, this time following the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Sources tell Variety that Gyllenhaal is in early talks to star in Lionsgate’s “Stronger,” which tells the true story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack. Sources say that after execs met with several A-list actors, Gyllenhaal is the favorite to land the role and that an offer is expected to come shortly.
Lionsgate had no comment.
David Gordon Green recently signed on to direct the pic. John Pollono has adapted the script for “Stronger,” which marks his full-length feature debut. Pollono wrote and co-starred in the Off Broadway play “Small Engine Repairs.” “Stronger” has been set up with Mandeville Films principals Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman along with Scott Silver, while Peter McGuigan will exec produce.
“Stronger” is based on the book by Bauman and Bret Witter. It details the aftermath of the 2013 attack at the marathon finish line, where Bauman had been cheering for his girlfriend. A photo of Bauman moments after the blast remains one of the best-known images from the tragedy, which killed three and injured more than 260. When Bauman awoke the next day after surgeries and realized he could not speak, he asked for a pad and paper and wrote: “Saw the guy. Looked right at me.” That set off a massive manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the murders in April.
The book, published last year, also describes Bauman’s attempts to walk again and face his new circumstances with grace, transforming from an aimless deli counter worker to a man driven with ambition and full of love. “I saw the bomber,” Bauman wrote. “He took my legs, but he didn’t break me. He only made me stronger.”
Two other Boston Marathon bombing movies are currently in development — CBS Films’ “Patriot’s Day,” with Mark Wahlberg attached to star, and Fox’s “Boston Strong.”
Gyllenhaal has recently been drawn more to serious dramas than to flashy commercial pics. His true-story adventure tale “Everest” opens the Venice Film Festival in September and will open in theaters in September. He also has the Fox Searchlight drama “Demolition” premiering at the Toronto Film Festival as the opening-night film.
He is also attached to star opposite Amy Adams in Tom Ford’s next film, “Nocturnal Animals.” He is repped by WME and Bloom Hergott.