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Real-life heroes mingle with movie stars at ‘Patriots Day’ premiere

The red carpet event at the Boston premiere of “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg, was attended by actors, politicians, and Boston Marathon bombing survivors.
The red carpet event at the Boston premiere of “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg, was attended by actors, politicians, and Boston Marathon bombing survivors.

Three years after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and grievously wounding dozens of others, a movie about the tragedy had its official red-carpet premiere.

“Patriots Day,” which chronicles the events of April 15, 2013, and the days that followed, was screened at the Wang Theater, and some of the real-life Bostonians whose stories are featured in the big-budget Hollywood film attended Wednesday’s premiere.

Also there, of course, was Mark Wahlberg, the Dorchester native who produced “Patriots Day” and stars in the film as a composite of Boston police officers who were present at the finish line when the bombs went off and afterward aided in the hunt for those responsible.


Just as it was at the premiere of the HBO documentary about the Marathon bombings, security was unusually tight for the “Patriots Day” screening at the Wang, with patrons prohibited from bringing backpacks or large bags into the theater.

Wahlberg was joined at the premiere by director Peter Berg, who said he hopes people will walk out of the movie with an appreciation for the city’s collective response to the act of terror.

“It’s about the power of community, the power of love,” Berg said. “This is an extremely shining example of how good we can be.”

“Patriots Day,” which opens in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles on Dec. 21 and everywhere else Jan. 13, centers on Wahlberg’s character, Sergeant Tommy Saunders, as well as Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, the newly married couple who both lost limbs in the explosion; slain MIT police Officer Sean Collier; Dun Meng, the Chinese-American student who was kidnapped by the Tsarnaevs; Boston Police Department officials Ed Davis and William Evans, Watertown police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, and FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers.


Davis, who’s played by John Goodman in the movie, said it’s a “raw and emotional experience” watching the bombings and the subsequent manhunt.

“We got knocked back,” he said. “But, as you see in the movie, we stood right back up and that kind of resilience is indicative of the American spirit.”

Pugliese, who’s played by Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, said it’s “a little surreal and a little humbling” to watch himself depicted on the big screen. But he praised for Berg for his attention to detail and desire to the story truthfully.

Wahlberg was accompanied on the red carpet by several family members, including his mother, Alma, and brother Robert, who confessed to a slight case of nerves.

“There’s just so much emotion attached to what happened,” said the star’s brother.

For his part, Wahlberg said he was eager for his hometown to finally see “Patriots Day.” He said the experience of making the movie affected him.

“The term hero has been redefined,” he said. “Growing up, you have sports heroes, for sure, but to see real people come together after something like this really redefines the term hero.”

Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was there Wednesday because the film includes a clip of the emotional real-life moment after the bombings when Big Papi told the Fenway faithful: “This is our [expletive] city.”

Others at the premiere included Senator Elizabeth Warren, who told us she’s working with Downes and Kensky on legislation helping survivors of traumatic amputations; CBS chairman Les Moonves; boxer Mickey Ward; actor Kevin Chapman; actress Eliza Dushku; and former Patriots Joe Andruzzi and Troy Brown.


“Patriots Day” is one of two scripted movies about the Marathon bombings. The other, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as survivor Jeff Bauman, is due out next year.