Jake Gyllenhaal was so certain he wanted to portray Boston bombing survivor Jeff Bauman that he called the production company to get himself the part early on.
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"I read the screenplay and I called up the head of Lionsgate, who was developing it," Gyllenhaal said on "Popcorn With Peter Travers." "I said, 'I'd love to play this part.' He said, 'Well, let us find a filmmaker first.' And they eventually found David Gordon Green and came back to me with David. And David said, 'I'd love for you to play this part.' And I said, 'Great.'"
"And that's where our story actually begins," Gyllenhaal, 36, told Travers.
He said the role and how he portrayed Bauman have constantly been on his mind: "It's all I've thought about every day. It's what I think about now, to this day."
Gyllenhaal went on to describe the emotional night when he and Bauman finally screened the film together in front of a large crowd at the Toronto Film Festival.
"We were very close and there were moments when we were both crying," Gyllenhaal said. "And there were moments when we were laughing a lot together. Some of the lines in the movie are his lines. Things he actually said. So there were a lot of things where we were cracking up and crying together."
Gyllenhaal said the crowd gave Bauman a standing ovation that night.
"I think what was incredible about it was it was a story that showed everyone in that audience how much strength it took to get him to a place where he could stand up. It's extraordinary to watch him walk today," Gyllenhaal said.
"Stronger" is in theaters everywhere.
Be sure to watch the full interview with Peter Travers and Jake Gyllenhaal in the video above.