On the rare occasion that there’s a red-carpet movie premiere in Boston, you can usually find the stars in the Theatre District or perhaps at one of the local movie theaters. But for the movie Stronger, the real-life story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman based on his autobiography of the same name, producers decided to do something a bit different.
On Tuesday, producers held a “friends and family” premiere at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, where Bauman completed much of his rehab and where several scenes in the movie were shot.
Bauman was joined on the carpet for photos and interviews by actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who portrays Bauman in the film. Also walking the red carpet was Erin Hurley, who Bauman was waiting for at the finish line when the bombs went off, and Tatiana Maslany, who plays Hurley in the film. Celtics players Gordon Hayward and Al Horford made appearances, too, as did director David Gordon Green, screenwriter John Pollono (a native of Londonderry, New Hampshire), and other members of Bauman’s inner circle and their movie counterparts.
As they walked the carpet side by side, Gyllenhaal frequently paused to crack jokes with Bauman, at one point commenting that he’d never seen Bauman in a suit before.
“He’s so lovable and appealing as a human being,” Gyllenhaal said of Bauman on the carpet. “The amount of crap he gives me is starting to get annoying, but besides that, his sense of humor is incredible, and that’s what got him through it.”
Bauman admitted that despite trying to keep a sunny outlook on things, there were scenes in the film that he found tough to watch.
“The hardest scene was probably with Jake and Tatiana in the hospital,” Bauman said, referring to a scene where Hurley visits Bauman shortly after he wakes up following the bombings. “Tatiana is crying, and seeing that put me right back in the bed, with all that pain.”
Dr. David Crandell, who served as Bauman’s attending physician at Spaulding, also walked the red carpet, and said that he was proud of both Spaulding’s role in the film and in Bauman’s recovery.
“I look at this as sort of a next chapter for Jeff, because it’s sort of an odyssey,” Crandell said of the film. “He’s still moving forward, and I think he’s got a lot of things he’s going to be doing. So having the movie out there is a way to characterize where he’s gotten to at this point. And we’re ready to find out what the next step is going to be.”
Stronger opens in Boston theaters on Sept. 22.
More photos from the premiere: