Patriots Day is the new film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, and J.K. Simmons. Last week Mark Wahlberg, Director Peter Berg, producers, survivors of the bombing and others discussed the film. I also sat down with former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to talk about the film, John Goodman portraying him and more. Below are some highlights of that conference.


Initially Mark Wahlberg didn’t want to get involved with a film about the bombings, but he talked about how he feels after seeing the film. “Obviously a huge sense of relief. Pete (Berg the director) and I were talking about it. When we were shooting Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell, who is one of the toughest Navy SEALs I’ve ever met, he couldn’t be on the set during the middle of the gun fight. It was a lot for him emotionally. Patrick (Downes) and Jessica (Kensky) two survivors of the bombings, wanted to come down to the marathon bombing set. And we were like ‘Oh no this is a bad idea’. They both just sort of looked at us and laughed ‘We’ve both been through this in real life. This is not going to effect us.’ Just to see their strength. I knew the reaction (to the film) would be emotional and ultimately uplifting. I’m so proud of my community as a whole in the way they responded (to the events).”

Director Peter Berg talked about what it was that made him have to do this project. “More than anything else, what made me want to get involved with this, as an adult, as a father, and as someone like all the rest of us, we have to acknowledge that these kinds of attacks are part of the new reality of the world we live in. As horrific as they are, they are no longer shocking. When we wake up, when we pick up the newspaper, we see that something bad happened. I was in Nice, France on Bastille Day when the truck drove through all those people. I witnessed first hand that horror. Citizens were helping and it was a very similar experience to what I learned to be the truth here in Boston. I was further reminded that this is a universal issue. Mark and I talked about this so much, we wanted to do this film because we wanted to show that evil doesn’t win. That love ultimately wins.”

J.K. Simmons plays Watertown Sgt. Jeff Pugliese. The real life Pugliese discussed how Simmons got into character. “He and I probably spent 60 to 80 hours together. He did ride alongs with me. I took him to the firing range. I taught him how to fire a hand gun, how to reload it in a combat situation. He’s like a sponge, just sucks it all up. He tape recorded our conversations so he could practice my speech patterns and the Boston accent. He’s an amazing actor.”

Some people question having the Tsarnaev brothers being so heavily shown in the film, but Peter Berg discussed their screen time and their importance in the film. “The amount of screen time we gave the Tsarnaev brothers is something we talked about. There were two main components that went into their screen time. I think the fact that the 9/11 terrorists snuck into the country and committed their act was one form of this type of terrorism. What separated the Tsarnaevs’ behavior, the clear separation, was how assimilated into our culture they were. One was in school here. He had several girlfriends. He was a known marijuana dealer. A very popular student on campus. The other brother was a boxer who had aspirations of representing the Olympic team. He was a piano player. He was a member of a local gym. These were individuals you might see at a Starbucks. They were not Saudi terrorists that snuck into the country. I think because they were so assimilated made them undeniably interesting and worth some screen time. At the same time, we were very conscious of not wanting to portray them in any way of being righteous. We don’t consider them to be good Muslims. We found their behavior to be cowardly and hypocritical. These were hypocritical, confused, narcissistic psychopaths.”


John Goodman plays former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis who talked to me about working with John and more. “John didn’t shadow me around or anything. We had two dinners. Long dinners where we talked long into the evening about the complexity of the investigation, the give and take that occurs between the agencies when everyone is working with a task force like that. He was very interested in the larger issues like that and then the small details like the clothing I was wearing, my accent, they say I have an accent, I don’t buy it. He worked long and hard on that. I thought he did a great job. I was very happy with the portrayal and John’s one of the best actors of our time.”

He told me what his family thought of the film. “They really enjoyed the movie. They did say afterwards that I don’t swear that much.”

I asked him if he was nervous about the handling of the movie. “I was nervous that someone would get a hold of this project and simply turn it into an action-adventure picture. It was only after I had discussions with Michael Radutzky (a producer of the film) and then met with Mark, I had never met Mark, and Peter, after the first or second meeting I was convinced they were going to do this right.”

Watching the film, it reminded me of how amazing police officers, SWAT, the FBI and everyone involved were that week. Today people have a negative attitude towards the police and I asked Mr. Davis if he hopes this movie could remind others of that. “I hope it does. I mean the actions of the officers depicted in this movie are the officers I know. Thirty-four years of policing, the courage, the compassion for people, the commitment to duty, those things are why I was in the business. It’s what I admire in the people I worked with. The narrative has been pretty tough lately, but I think this does balance it out a little and shows that it isn’t all like what you see in the news. One bad cop shoots somebody and they show that over and over again. It’s a terrible thing to have happen and we have to clean up shop and do things differently, but it is not indicative of 99% of cops. I remember going through Watertown after we got him (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev), crowds were on both sides of us tapping on our cruisers giving us thumbs up. I remember thinking this must be like how it was when the Allies freed Paris. It was quite an experience and now it’s changed.”

The former commissioner mentioned he hadn’t met Mark Wahlberg prior to this film. Mark played Micky Ward in The Fighter, a movie based on the Lowell boxer and his brother Dicky Eklund. Davis was a former Lowell cop during the 1990s when Micky and Dicky were making headlines for different reasons. I asked if he shared any stories of Micky and Dicky with Mark. “I should have. I say Dicky was a client of mine (laughing). I’ve been a big fan of Micky’s for years. I just really love the kid. Both great families. Both grew up in the same neighborhood my dad came from. My cousins all lived there as a kid so I know what it’s like to be those kids. I think that that movie really showed the strength of Lowell. And this movie really shows the strength of Boston. If you watch those movies back to back, it’s sort of a retrospect of my life.”

I asked the former commissioner if he ever thought he’d be involved in movies. “Never. The only thing more surprising was that Dicky Eklund was a character in a movie (laughing). You’re the first person to ask me about them. That’s a good question.”

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