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J.K. Simmons is in awe of Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, the real-life Watertown, Mass., police officer he portrays in the Boston Marathon bombing drama Patriots Day, as shown in a new behind-the-scenes video exclusively shared by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Until you’re thrown into the middle of a fire, I don’t think you know how you’re gonna react, and Jeff is one of those guys who reacted exactly the way you hope the police will react,” explains the Oscar winner. “He saved lives.”
Directed by Peter Berg, the CBS Films and Lionsgate title is based on the actual 2013 bombing and sees Simmons — alongside fellow castmembers Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon and Michelle Monaghan — joining courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again.
Throughout production, Simmons consulted with the real Pugliese about the actual events depicted in the film, as well as best techniques on the job. And some scenes were shot at Pugliese’s actual home — complete with a jar of his personal pasta sauce.
Still, Pugliese says humbly, “I don’t consider myself a hero — we’re just a group of ordinary guys who were put in an extraordinary situation, and we just performed extraordinarily.”
Patriots Day will bow in limited theaters on Dec. 21 before expanding nationwide on Jan. 13.
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