Jake Gyllenhaal has become a fixture at the Toronto International Film Festival. Over the last four years, the actor has appeared there with a series of chameleonlike performances in “Nocturnal Animals,” “Demolition,” “Nightcrawler” and “Prisoners.” This week, he heads back to Canada with “Stronger,” the story of real-life Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman.
“Stronger” is a harrowing showcase for Gyllenhaal, playing a 27-year-old man who loses both his legs in the 2013 bombing on Boylston Street. The movie, which opens in theaters on Sept. 22 through Roadside Attractions, signals a behind-the-scenes transformation for Gyllenhaal. It’s the first project that he has produced through his Manhattan-based company Nine Stories (named after the 1953 collection of prose by J.D. Salinger), which he launched two years ago with veteran producer Riva Marker.
“We have two goals,” says Gyllenhaal, seated next to Marker in their new offices in SoHo in downtown New York. “One is to find material I can do as an actor. And also, it’s to champion the filmmakers we love.” He notes that when he’s not appearing in a project, he’ll be involved behind the camera only.
Nine Stories’ game plan is to back edgy, independent films in the $10 million-to-$40 million-budget range, TV series and stage productions (such as “Sunday in the Park With George,” starring Gyllenhaal, which had a limited, sold-out run on Broadway in the spring). Many of its film titles are financed through a first-look deal with Bold Films, an agreement that was recently extended through 2020. “They have so much passion and such great taste,” says Gary Michael Walters, the CEO of Bold Films. “They have very quickly evolved into true producers.”
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