By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – For Dorchester native Mark Wahlberg, this week’s Boston debut of the movie Patriots Day, came with a lot of pressure. But a day after his hometown got a glimpse of the film depicting the marathon bombings, he says he feels relief. “Seeing the reaction was extremely emotional, but positive at the same time,” said Wahlberg.

He and director-writer Peter Berg have talked at length about the importance of getting the story right. At a news conference Thursday, survivor Jessica Kensky said getting it “right” is impossible for her.

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“I don’t think it was anyone’s error or mistake. I just think it’s the nature of this,” Kensky said. “This was really traumatic. This permanently changed lives. This permanently ended lives, and so ‘right’ is I don’t think something you can achieve with survivors, but ‘respect’ is. And I do think that the gentlemen [the filmmakers] sitting behind us ensured that that happened.”

Wahlberg says he gets that. “I would never expect them to like us reenacting the worst day of their lives, but to be able to honor them, and show how heroic they were, and how strong they were, and the resiliency, that was important to us,” he said.

Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky at 'Patriots Day' premiere (WBZ-TV)

Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky at ‘Patriots Day’ premiere (WBZ-TV)

While Kensky praises producers, she says it was tough for survivors to watch. “What I heard mostly was it was so hard to see the bombers on the screen.”

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Berg says he put a lot of thought into deciding how much screen time the bombers should get. “These were hypocritical confused narcissistic psychopaths,” he said. “It was worth noting how they became radicalized to a degree, or at least noting how a part of the culture they were. We were careful not to overpower the movie with their presence.”

Kensky expressed gratitude for a fellow survivor who’s also portrayed in the movie, Danny Meng. He managed to escape when the bombers carjacked him at gunpoint. “All I can say for the survivors is that they were incredibly touched to meet him, and…we were both very impacted, but I don’t know that we would have had the bravery that he demonstrated.”

Dun Meng. (Image credit: CBS News)

Dun Meng. (Image credit: CBS News)

Meng, in turn praised Kensky and her husband Patrick Downes. Meng said for himself, it was one difficult day, while other survivors’ lives are impacted forever.

The movie opens to the public in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles December 21st, and in the rest of the country January 13th. The creators have established a fund to benefit Boston charities, including the Martin Richard Foundation. So far they’ve raised $200,000. You can find out more at

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The movie is produced by CBS Boston’s sister company, CBS Films. WBZ-TV will air a special behind-the scenes broadcast, “The Making of Patriots Day,” on Tuesday December 20 at 7 p.m.

Christina Hager