Back in 1996, the Atlanta Olympics were raging—that is, until reports of a bomb in the area started rolling in. Security guard Richard Jewell was falsely accused of the crime, ultimately having to spend scores of money and time defending his reputation. Now, his story is coming to the big screen.
Returning for the film is the who-knew-they-were-so-good duo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, the latter of which will take up the Richard Jewell part. DiCaprio, for his part, will play a lawyer acquaintance of Jewell’s that ended up shepherding him through the whole ordeal, so this one is essentially the anti-Wolf of Wall Street.
Based off Vanity Fair’s 1997 tell-all article, “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” penned by legendary investigative journalist, Marie Brenner, this is the newest effort to tell Jewell’s story—one which he was never able to live down. Jewell passed away in 2007.
As the story goes, Jewell was working security at the 1996 Olympics when he noticed a suspicious backpack laying out in the open near the games. He reported the knapsack, moved people away from the area before any explosion could cause injury, and initially was seen as the hero of the whole situation. Three days after the incident, though, police started examining Jewell as a potential suspect, which—when combined with the vicious 24-hours news cycle—ultimately more or less ruined his public life. Jewell, of course, had nothing to do with placing the bomb.
In terms of film, however, this effort marks Hill’s further transition from comic actor to dramatic force—along with the Hill/DiCaprio duo’s first re-appearance on screen. But while Wolf proved the pair adept at becoming lovable villains, Richard Jewell ought to answer whether they can portray stalwart heroes.
Which, ultimately, is how we came to view the real Richard Jewell. With any luck, Hill’s performance can do the same.