Clint Eastwood is returning to the big screen this awards season with his latest biographical drama “Richard Jewell.” The movie is based on the true story of its title character, a security guard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, who discovered three pipe bombs on the park grounds. Jewell, played in the film by rising actor and “I, Tonya” breakout Paul Walter Hauser, was initially hailed as a hero for saving lives, only for unreliable media coverage to turn him into a suspect and destroy his life.
Warner Bros.’ official synopsis for “Richard Jewell” reads: “The world is first introduced to Richard Jewell as the security guard who reports finding the device at the 1996 Atlanta bombing; his report making him a hero whose swift actions save countless lives. But within days, the law enforcement wannabe becomes the FBI’s number one suspect, vilified by press and public alike, his life ripped apart. Reaching out to independent, anti-establishment attorney Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), Jewell staunchly professes his innocence. But Bryant finds he is out of his depth as he fights the combined powers of the FBI, GBI and APD to clear his client’s name, while keeping Richard from trusting the very people trying to destroy him.”
In addition to Hauser and Oscar winner Rockwell, Eastwood’s ensemble cast also includes Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, Ian Gomez, Dylan Kussman, and Wayne Duvall. The script comes from Billy Ray, who’s having a busy fall as the co-writer of studio tentpoles “Gemini Man and “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Ray is best known as the writer-director of “Shattered Glass” and “Breach,” and he also wrote the script for Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips.”
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The first trailer for “Richard Jewell” sets the film up as a companion piece to Eastwood’s 2016 drama “Sully.” Both movies are based on true stories and center on heroic protagonists who unjustly come under fire by law enforcement. “Sully” was a critical and commercial hit, landing on both the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review’s list of the 10 best films of the year. While Eastwood’s name can never be counted out in the awards race, Warner Bros. has recently relied on the 89-year-old filmmaker more for his box office power than his Oscar pull. Eastwood’s last release, “The Mule,” opened in December 2018 to $172 million worldwide.
“Richard Jewell” is opening in theaters nationwide December 14.