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Stronger: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, Clancy Brown, Miranda Richardson

Jake Gyllenhaal
Born: December 19, 1980
Los Angeles, California, USA
Jeff Bauman
Born: 1986
Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts, USA
Tatiana Maslany
Born: September 22, 1985
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Erin Hurley
Born: abt 1987
Birthplace: Massachusetts, USA
Carlos Sanz
Carlos Arredondo
Born: August 25, 1960
Birthplace: San José, Costa Rica
Miranda Richardson
Born: March 3, 1958
Southport, Lancashire, England, UK
Patty Bauman
Born: October 30, 1955
Clancy Brown
Born: January 5, 1959
Urbana, Ohio, USA
Jeff Bauman Sr
Born: May 16, 1960
Birthplace: Massachusetts, USA
Danny McCarthy
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Kevin Horst
Born: August 15, 1966

Jeff's Manager at Costco
Frankie Shaw
Born: November 11, 1986
Brookline, Massachusetts, USA
Gail Hurley
Birthplace: Massachusetts, USA

Erin's Sister
Nate Richman
Born: April 19, 1989
Derek 'Big D'
Born: abt 1987

Jeff's Cousin
Richard Lane Jr.
South Boston, Massachusetts, USA
John 'Sully' Sullivan

Jeff's Friend Since the Third Grade

Questioning the Story:

Did Jeff Bauman really go to the finish line to wait for his girlfriend?

Yes. Like in the Stronger Boston Marathon movie, the true story confirms that Jeff went to the finish line to wait for his girlfriend Erin Hurley to finish the race. He did not run in the marathon himself. It was Erin's first time participating in the event, and she was running to raise money to upgrade the neonatal intensive care unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital where she worked. In real life, Jeff also saw her earlier at a checkpoint during the race. -The New York Times

Left: This 2012 photo of Jeff Bauman and then-girlfriend Erin Hurley hung on his IV while he was in intensive care. Right: Actors Tatiana Maslany and Jake Gyllenhaal portray the couple in the Stronger movie. Jeff Bauman Facebook

Do any photos exist of the "big sign" that Jeff made for Erin?

In the movie, Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) tells Erin (Tatiana Maslany) that he is going to make "a big sign" for her to cheer her on at the marathon. He really did make a big sign and a photo of him holding it can be seen in Jeff's memoir Stronger.

Did Jeff Bauman notice one of the bombers before the blasts?

Yes. After seeing his girlfriend Erin at a marathon checkpoint in Newton, Jeff Bauman went to the finish line to wait for her. He was joined by her two roommates, Remy Lawler and Michele Mahoney. Remy and Michele worked their way through the crowd and closer to the street. Bauman remained near the back of the spectators that were five and six deep. As he watched for Erin, he looked behind him and saw a man in a dark, heavy coat, a baseball cap, sunglasses, with a black bag over his right shoulder.

The cap was low over the man's eyes, and in addition to being peculiarly dressed, he looked far too serious for the occasion. And why was he staying back so far? Bauman turned his head forward and scanned the finishing area for Erin. When he looked over his right shoulder again, the man was gone but he'd left his backpack behind on the sidewalk. He didn't know it then, but the man he had seen was terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It was then that Bauman saw a flash and heard a bang. Before he knew it, he was on the ground with bodies and blood strewn around him. Watch a Jeff Bauman interview where he describes seeing the terrorist. -The New York Times

How far away was Jeff's girlfriend Erin when the bombs went off?

In researching the Stronger true story, we learned that Erin Hurley was about a mile away from the finish line when the bombs went off. She couldn't tell what had happened and wondered why everyone stopped. She did not see the explosions like in the movie. -The New York Times

Was the man in the cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo, the first person to come to Jeff Bauman's aid?

No. Like we briefly see in the movie, Allan Panter, a Gainesville, Georgia surgeon who had been near Bauman in the crowd, was the first to help him. Panter, who had himself been unharmed in the blast, pulled Bauman away from the mass of casualties on the ground. He shoved the loose tissue back into Bauman's leg, which caused Bauman to scream. Panter placed a makeshift tourniquet around Bauman's right leg and put a jacket on top of him. He stepped away to tend to a woman on the ground nearby, whose eyes were fixed open and revealed little signs of life.

Carlos Arredondo had been across the street and came running over to help. Bauman sat up when he saw the man in the cowboy hat approaching. Arredondo beat out the flames on Bauman's burning shirt and shouted for help. He tore pieces of fabric from a shirt and tied them around what was left of Bauman's legs. A woman brought a wheelchair over and with the help of Panter, they lifted Bauman into the chair. Arredondo took off running beside Bauman, trying to hold the tourniquet together that had come loose on his leg. They arrived at a medical tent where Bauman was loaded into an ambulance. He became the first casualty taken to Boston Medical Center. On the way, he noticed that he was having trouble hearing. Watch video of a bloodied Arredondo being interviewed shortly after helping Bauman. -The New York Times

In this famous photo, Carlos Arredondo (aka the man in the cowboy hat) holds fabric from a tourniquet so it doesn't keep getting caught in the wheelchair wheels as they rush Jeff Bauman to the medical tent and into an ambulance. Inset: Actors Carlos Sanz and Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie.

Did Carlos Arredondo really lose a son in the Iraq War?

Yes. In the Stronger movie, Carlos Arredondo (Carlos Sanz) tells Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), "You remind me of my son. He died. Helping you made me feel like I could help my son, and for that I am grateful." In real life, Arredondo's son Alexander was a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2004. As a tribute to his son, he handed out flags at the marathon. As the Arredondo character explains in the Stronger Boston Marathon movie, he also lost a second son, Brian, who took his own life at 24 on the anniversary of Alexander's death. He had been battling drug addiction and depression (largely over the loss of his brother). -The New York Times

Like Arredondo says in the movie, when he received the news in 2004 that his son Alex had died in combat in Iraq, he grabbed a hammer and smashed the windshield of the van belonging to the group of Marines who came to deliver the news. He then poured gasoline on the van and himself, igniting it with a propane torch, which left him with burns on 26 percent of his body. "It's so deep, the emotions in your mind and your heart, that you pretty much wish you are the one who (was) dead and not your son," says Arredondo. -Boston Herald

Did the real Jeff Bauman lose both legs in the attack?

Yes. The first bomb that detonated had blown off most of Jeff Bauman's lower legs. Once at the hospital on the day of the attack, a surgeon sifted through the remaining tissue and muscle, cutting away what was dirty and dying. He amputated what was left of the lower part of Bauman's legs at the knee joints.

Two days later, Bauman's primary surgeon at the Boston Medical Center, Dr. Jeffrey Kalish, performed a formal amputation of each leg at roughly four inches above the knee. He made sure they were even and cut each layer — skin, tissue, muscle and bone — like a staircase up the inside of the leg, which made it easier to tuck in the muscle and stitch the tissue together. Before doing so, Kalish rinsed out the open legs for 10 minutes to wash away any contaminants that could lead to infection. Pictured below is Jeff Bauman in 2013 at Fenway Park. Watch video of him throwing out the first pitch. -The New York Times

Jeff Bauman (left) was invited to Fenway Park to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Boston Red Sox baseball game on May 28, 2013. Jake Gyllenhaal (right) as Bauman in the Stronger Boston Marathon bombing movie.

Did the doctors keep having to resuscitate him?

Yes, though it's not shown in the movie. Both of Jeff's legs were amputated at the knee on the day of the bombings. Since Jeff had lost so much blood, the doctors had to keep resuscitating him during the surgery, pumping him with blood and fluids. Later at around 1 a.m., doctors operated again to drain internal fluids that had built up from the blunt force of the explosion. -The New York Times

Did Jeff really write "Lt. Dan" on the notepad when he woke up from surgery?

Yes. This actually happened. The real Jeff has a wonderful sense of humor. He already knew his legs were gone and thought it would be funny to mess with his friend Sully who was trying to break the news. "I saw my friend who was in the room, his face, and he was trying to explain to me that I didn't have my legs," says Jeff. "I couldn't tell him, 'Bro, I already know.' I couldn't say that to him, so I had to joke with him. I had to mess with him somehow. It was like perfect. It like popped into my head." As seen in the movie, Jeff first asked about Erin to make sure she was okay. -WTOP News

Did he really help to catch the suspects?

Yes. Fact-checking the Stronger Boston Marathon bombing movie confirms that when he woke up from the surgery, Jeff was interviewed by the FBI and gave them a description of terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who he had seen just before the explosion. Jeff Bauman's brother Chris said, "He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, 'bag, saw the guy, looked right at me'." The description he gave was instrumental in narrowing down the suspect pool and eventually identifying the Tsarnaev brothers, which led to the manhunt that was depicted in 2016's Patriots Day starring Mark Wahlberg. In addition to talking to the FBI, Bauman also worked with a Boston PD sketch artist. -Telegraph

In addition to losing his legs, did Jeff Bauman also suffer other injuries in the blast?

Yes. The Stronger true story reveals that Bauman's right eardrum was destroyed and his left had a considerable hole in it. He had lost about 20 decibels of hearing from the blast. Music echoed in rooms and he often needed people to speak louder.

He had been burnt through his midsection and had second-degree burns up through most of his back. For several weeks, the bright red (and in some areas raw) skin stung if he rolled on it the wrong way, which often kept him awake at night. In addition to burns, he had suffered a hole in his right arm that was packed from the inside. -The New York Times

The real Jeff Bauman (left) in 2013 less than 3 months after his injuries. Jake Gyllenhaal (right) as Bauman in the movie. Facebook

Did Jeff Bauman work at Costco before the bombing?

Yes. Like in the Stronger Boston Marathon movie, the real Jeff Bauman had been working at Costco for about two and a half years before the injury, starting in the delicatessen. When he first got hired, he had been taking college classes. After stopping college without a degree, he put more focus on his job and future at Costco. He had plans to go back to school after paying off student loans. Bauman returned to his job at Costco in June 2014, roughly 14 months after his injury. He remained there for a few months until his book took off (he eventually held a book signing at Costco, pictured below). His girlfriend Erin Hurley worked at Brigham and Women's Hospital, which is depicted in the movie. -The New York Times

At the time of the movie's release, Bauman was enrolled in a mechanical engineering program, hoping to eventually work for a prosthetics company. Since his injury, he had developed a desire to help other people. He also does public speaking. Watch and listen to him tell his story at a public speaking event in his hometown. -The Los Angeles Times

Is the movie based on Jeff Bauman's book?

Yes. The movie is based on Jeff Bauman's 2014 memoir Stronger, in which he describes the bombing that took his legs, his efforts to help the FBI catch the terrorists, and his grueling rehabilitation that included learning to walk on prosthetic legs. At the same time, the love story between him and Erin was evolving and growing stronger. As he struggled through tremendous pain (in addition to hearing loss), Jeff had to reconcile the world's admiration for him with his own guilt and frustration, something that Jake Gyllenhaal attempts to convey in the Stronger movie. Read the book to get a firsthand account and a broader understanding of the true story.

Jeff Bauman's 2014 Memoir Stronger provided the basis for the Jake Gyllenhaal Boston Marathon bombing movie. Bauman is pictured with his parents Patty and Jeff Sr. at a Costco book signing.

Did Bauman come watch his girlfriend run as an act of devotion to mend their rocky relationship?

Yes. Fact-checking Stronger confirmed that Jeff Bauman went to the Boston Marathon to show his girlfriend Erin Hurley that he was able to commit to her and support her in her first marathon. Like in the movie, their relationship had been rocky for some time prior and they had broken up less than a month before the bombing. Jeff would break dates and Erin would accuse him of not being committed, which he admits was true. -Stronger Memoir

How long had Jeff and his girlfriend Erin been dating at the time of the Boston Marathon bombing?

Jeff and Erin had been together for roughly a year. After his injury, he wanted to get married, buy a house, and have a fresh start, but she wanted to wait, telling him that it might be too much to take on just then. She often spent the night at the Boston Medical Center and then the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. It was at the latter that they figured out how to be intimate again. -The New York Times

Did Bauman's girlfriend feel guilty that he had come to the marathon to watch her?

Yes. Erin Hurley, portrayed by Tatiana Maslany in the movie, felt an enormous sense of guilt after Bauman lost his legs in the bombings, aware that she was the reason he had showed up. "I'm sorry," she told him when he woke up in the hospital. "Don't say that," Jeff replied, assuring her that it wasn't her fault. -Stronger Memoir

Jeff's girlfriend Erin Hurley (pictured in July 2013) struggled with the guilt of knowing he had come to the marathon to watch her. Tatiana Maslany (right) portrays Hurley in the movie.

Are Jeff Bauman's parents divorced?

Yes. They divorced when Bauman was 2 years old and have a difficult time being around one another. They visited the hospital at different times in an effort to avoid each other. His father, who is remarried with more children, lives in New Hampshire. He didn't see Jeff on a regular basis prior to the bombing. His mother was working as a waitress at the time of the attack. -The New York Times

While recovering, did Bauman use painkillers to make it through the day?

Yes. The Stronger movie true story reveals that he used a regular regiment of 1,200 milligrams of gabapentin to treat leg pain and phantom leg pain, 5 milligrams of oxycodone and 1,000 milligrams of Tylenol. If he still could not endure the pain, he took more oxycodone. He packed a bag of painkillers whenever he planned to leave the house. -The New York Times

How much do Jeff Bauman's prosthetic legs cost?

Each Otto Bock prosthetic leg that he was first outfitted with costs around $100,000 and contains microprocessors to track his gait. Various charities helped to cover the cost, in addition to a GoFundMe account set up for Bauman, which has currently raised over $800,000 (search Bucks for Bauman on GoFundMe). Watch Jeff Bauman beta test a new tailor made prosthetic foot.

Jeff Bauman (left) practices walking with prosthetic legs in the months following the bombing. Jake Gyllenhaal struggles to walk through the pain in the Stronger Boston Marathon movie.

Is Jeff's birth mother really loving, feisty, and hard-drinking like Miranda Richardson's character in the movie?

Yes. In a press conference for the movie, the real Jeff Bauman said that Miranda Richardson did a great job as his mom, Patty, accurately depicting the roughness of her character. He also recalled times when he'd be sleeping and his mom would come banging on the door drunk, waking him up like in the movie. "She liked to drink. Some in the family want to make more of it than that like maybe she needed drinking to take the edge off," Bauman wrote in Stronger, "but that was the way I always saw it: Mom liked to drink. Never during the day, but every night." He said that when his mom saw the movie she was upset that they made her apartment look so dirty when she's not a dirty person in real life.

Did Jeff Bauman suffer from depression and PTSD like in the movie?

At first he just wanted to move on. It frustrated him that everyone looked at him expecting him to be broken, upset and somber. Their expectations for his feelings didn't match the direction he was trying to go. He was a private person and also didn't like the feeling of being on display for everyone to see, including the nurses, doctors, relatives and friends who were constantly popping into the room.

It also didn't help that every time he looked down he was constantly reminded of what had happened and the long road ahead of him. He'd lie awake thinking about the bombing and couldn't sleep, sometimes all night, recalling how helpless he felt lying in the street with no legs and no way to get up. He'd have nightmares about his missing legs, the pool of blood, and the explosion. In his worst moments, he could smell it. -Stronger Memoir

Did Jeff Bauman really turn to partying and alcohol to lessen the pressure of being the symbol for "Boston Strong"?

Yes. Bauman could not escape the constant attention from the media and the public, who viewed him as a hero and the embodiment of "Boston Strong". The catchphrase became the rallying cry to unite Boston and the United States after the attack. Watch Jeff Bauman wave a Boston Strong flag before a Bruins hockey game. Bauman turned to alcohol and partying to numb the pressure, something that was hard for him to see depicted in the movie.

"It portrayed me partying and drinking and not showing up for therapy once a week when I should have been there three times a week," says Bauman. "That's real. I was lost going through this. He got me totally right. But was hard to face it and see that other people saw that." -The Los Angeles Times

Jeff Bauman (left) became the symbol for Boston Strong. Here he waves a Boston Strong flag before a hockey game. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal (right) recreates the moment for the Stronger Boston Marathon bombing movie.

Did Jeff's then-girlfriend Erin and his mother Patty really fight over his care?

Yes. In his book, Jeff writes about how his mom would butt heads with Erin regarding his care and what he should be doing for his recovery. He said that the scene with him in the back of the car and his mom arguing with Erin really happened.

Was removing the bandages as painful as it looks in the movie?

Yes. In real life, Jeff Bauman also endured a lot of pain later on when the sutures came out. Despite Bauman's surgeon, Dr. Kalish, telling him that the suture removal would be easy and painless, a few of the deeper sutures brought Bauman to tears as he winced in pain through the ordeal. The process was to "yank and cut" the sutures, hoping they would all come out easily, but 10 deeper ones required Kalish to remove them himself instead of having a resident do it. By the time Kalish was finished, Bauman's legs were bleeding. This mini Jeff Bauman biography includes video of him having the sutures removed.

Are Jeff Bauman and his girlfriend Erin still together?

No. In February 2014, Jeff Bauman and Erin Hurley became engaged. They got married in their backyard in November 2014, several months after the birth of their daughter. In February 2017, Jeff Bauman and Erin Hurley announced they were getting a divorce after less than three years of marriage.

Bauman's reps issued a statement saying, "Jeff and Erin have decided that it is best to move forward as friends. Though their relationship has changed, their admiration, love and mutual respect for each other will never waver. They are dedicated to loving and parenting their daughter, Nora, and ask for privacy." Together, they share joint custody of Nora, born on July 13, 2014. Erin did not appear with Jeff to promote the movie.

Erin and Jeff at their 2014 backyard wedding (left) and several months later with daughter Nora (right). Jeff Bauman Facebook

Did Jeff Bauman really turn down meeting Oprah Winfrey?

Yes. "I would love to meet her. She seems like a wonderful person," says Jeff. "It's just that at that point in time in my life it was just like, 'What's going on?' My mom and my Aunt Jenn were trying to do all this stuff for me that I didn't really want." -ET Canada

Did Larry and other people thank Jeff and share their stories with him as he was leaving the Red Sox game?

Not exactly. Jake Gyllenhaal indicated that this didn't happen quite like it does in the movie, where it seamlessly ties into the emotional arc of the story. Instead, the scene sums up many similar real-life moments. "There are videos of Jeff when I was studying him and trying to learn how to play him, that you would never believe," says Gyllenhaal, "just people lining up, lining up for miles, it feels like Field of Dreams. People just coming up and saying, this happened to me, to my mother, to my father, to my brother, to my sister, to my cousin, to my uncle, to me, and when I hear your story, it makes me feel like I can get through it." -Conan

Were any of the real-life people involved in the movie?

Yes. The real Jeff Bauman was heavily involved in the movie and developed a close friendship with Jake Gyllenhaal in the process. Watch them walk onto the field together to throw out the first pitches at the 2016 Patriots Day Red Sox game. His then-wife Erin was also consulted for the film, meeting with actress Tatiana Maslany.

"The production invited a lot of real-life people to participate," says director David Gordon Green, "from the surgeon that amputated Jeff's leg, his physical therapist, the Martino brothers, who helped fit him for a prosthetic leg. So, not just Hollywood actors are coming to this stage, but a lot of authentic personalities that had a voice that brought a truth and a dignity to the subject matter." Current and former patients of the rehabilitation center are also seen in the movie, in addition to the staff.

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman in the weeks prior to the movie's release.

Jeff Bauman Interviews and Related "Stronger" Videos

Strengthen your knowledge of the Stronger true story by watching Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo interviews. Watch Jeff and Carlos throw out the first pitches at the Boston Red Sox game and see Jeff wave the Boston Strong flag at the Bruins hockey game.