Real Life Local Heroes Advised On New Marathon Bombing Film ‘Patriots Day’

BOSTON (CBS) – The new movie Patriots Day brings the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the search for the bombers to the big screen. That all-out exhaustive search involved shutting down the city of Boston and several surrounding communities. Many of those real life heroes became trusted advisors for the film – guiding the writers, actors, and producers.

One of the many officers represented in the movie, which opens in Boston on Wednesdays, is Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese of the Watertown Police Department. He has an incredible story to tell.

“When I got about here, one of the pipe bombs went off,” Sgt. Pugliese said as he calmly recounted that late night shoot-out with the bombers, on the streets of Watertown. Sgt. Pugliese was one of the first officers on the scene. He’s portrayed in the movie by actor J.K. Simmons.

“He was there and I was here and we were shooting at each other. Fortunately, he missed me,” Pugliese said, pointing out that only a fence and about 6 or 8 feet separated him from Tamerlan Tsarnaev that night. Sgt. Pugliese painstakingly walked J.K. Simmons and Director Peter Berg through every dramatic detail. “While they were filming, if they had any questions they’d stop and they’d ask me, ‘Is this how it happened?’ They wanted to make sure it was pretty precise.”

The Tsarnaev brothers taking aim and firing on the officers. The red circle highlights the pressure cooker bomb that was used just moments after this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy: Andrew Kitzenberg)

The Tsarnaev brothers taking aim and firing at officers in Watertown. The red circle highlights a pressure cooker bomb that was used just moments after this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy: Andrew Kitzenberg)

Boston Police Superintendent turned Commissioner Bill Evans ran the Boston Marathon in 2013. When the bombs went off, he went right to work on the investigation. “A lot of people did some really good things that week,” Evans told us. Evans was on set for filming at the Boylston Street finish line, and helped filmmakers recreate the capture of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found hiding in a Watertown boat.

“I was at the final scene where the boat was,” he recalled. “They had me walk around and sort of look at it and say, ‘Was that the way it was? What do you remember about it?'”

Actor James Colby plays Evans in the movie. “I think they got a good snapshot of how intense the manhunt was, the emotion, and how at the end it was so emotional to leave Watertown that day with the crowds cheering,” Evans said.

Crowds applaud police officers after capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (WBZ-TV)

Crowds applaud police officers in Watertown after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (WBZ-TV)

“They got a lot of things exactly right,” agreed former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. He’s been an advisor on Patriots Day since the very beginning. John Goodman takes on the role of Commissioner Davis in the movie.

“I thought that they depicted a lot of the detail of those four days,” Davis said, “a lot more than I thought could have been squeezed into a movie, actually.”

But Davis says the movie isn’t about the action. It’s about the heart of a city. “It’s about the resiliency of the community, and the fact that Boston was able to rise to this challenge and overcome it, and I think that overall that’s really the most important part of it.”

Patriots Day is produced by our sister company, CBS Films.

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