After juggling the nuances of numerous clones on TV’s “Orphan Black,” Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany tried to strike a different balance for the Boston Marathon bombing drama “Stronger.”
The Regina-raised actress plays Erin Hurley, a real person who helped her boyfriend Jeff Bauman through physical therapy and drinking problems after he lost his legs in the explosion more than four years ago.
Preparing for the part left her confronting the “emotional tricky territory” of Hurley’s actual life, she said, and deciding how to navigate between truth and interpretation.
Lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Bauman in the film, was experiencing similar apprehension about his role.
“Jake often talks about this fraudulent feeling because we’re only interpreting a story that somebody actually went through,” she said in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.
“(But) I wasn’t seeking to do an impression of her … There’s a point where it’s about the script as opposed to paying homage to the real people.”
“Stronger” is based on Bauman’s 2014 memoir, which recounts the battle with his own demons while the public is painting him as a hero. Hurley is present throughout much of the tumult, often serving as Bauman’s emotional support or a staggering dose of reality.
Many of the film’s most intense moments play out between Gyllenhaal and Maslany as she pressures him to focus on his recovery, while he spirals into alcoholism and ignores his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Gyllenhaal spent considerable time in Boston studying Bauman’s physical movements, but trying to accurately capture his physical pain wasn’t easy.
“Every time I think about the preparation for this role I sort of knew I was set out to fail,” the actor said.
“I would never be able to get close to the pain or understand it really … There’s no pretending that would touch the real thing.”
Oscar prognosticators, however, seem convinced that Gyllenhaal pulled it off. He’s been widely touted as one of the contenders for this year’s best actor race.
Maslany smiles when asked about the awards buzz. She says she can’t help but draw parallels with the movie, where the word “hero” is tossed around by outsiders who knew little about what happened when the spotlight turned off.
“The film we’re doing talks about all that noise on the outside,” she said. “There’s this weird duality to the two things.”
“Stronger” opens in theatres on Friday.