After her award-winning performances in the hit sci-fi thriller “Orphan Black,” Tatiana Maslany is taking on a much different role in the upcoming drama “Stronger.”
The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, the Chelmsford native who helped identify one of the bombers after losing his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack. Maslany plays his on-again, off-again girlfriend Erin Hurley, who ran in the Marathon that day and was an integral part of Bauman’s road to recovery.
“It’s really about that community, about showing how strong Boston became because of this tragedy,” Maslany says. “That is a really important theme of the film, the sense of holding onto each other and lifting each other up.”
We caught up with the 31-year-old star to talk about her preparations for “Stronger” and the pressures she felt while making the film.
Find any favorite spots during your stay in Boston?
I had Boston crème pie at some fluorescent-lit bakery where 900 are lined up. What was it called? It wasn’t as snazzy as Flour – I did go to Flour a lot – but this felt very classic.
How much time did you spend with Erin preparing for the project?
I spent a few hangs with Erin and got to know her a little bit. For me, it was less so about embodying her mannerisms and things like that, but more so in getting an essence from her and understanding a bit of how she survived this, what kind of person it takes to go through this with somebody. I really took a great amount of emotional strength from her. The idea of running a marathon, not only does that take up stamina, but it takes a mental, psychological strength. She was somehow able to transfer that idea into this marathon of emotion that they go through.
As someone who’s in the spotlight, was it easy for you to relate to Jeff and Erin’s struggle with all the media attention after the attack?
The one time I really felt it the most acutely while playing Erin was when we were at the Bruins game and it was the first day of shooting. It’s the scene where Erin pushes Jeff onto the ice and he waves the flag. When we came out, [the fans] were all yelling “Jeff!” and there were people from his life who were going “We love you Jeff,” to Jake. I’m there as Erin hearing this crowd and going, “Oh my God. Major fraud alert. How can I stand in this person’s shoes? Look at how much this story means to people.” That’s when I really felt like her. I wanted to hide, like we’re not ready to do this. All of this stuff was colliding with this very public thing that was happening.
Considering the current political climate, what are your thoughts on the portrayal of violence in American media and how that relates to the real world?
There’s so many violent acts happening right now, and the scariest thing is when the people who are supposed to be telling the truth aren’t. That’s the thing I find most scary. What’s amazing is that there are voices speaking up against that.
Coming from Canada, the first time I crossed the border from Vancouver to Seattle, I went to a bank to get money out and there was a cop with a massive gun. I don’t feel safer knowing that guy’s got this massive gun. There’s an expectation of something bad happening. It wass totally a culture shock for me.
"Stronger" opens in theaters Sept. 22.