Poor Richard Jewell…falsely harassed by the news media and hounded by the FBI in ’96 over suspicions that he was the Centennial Olympic Park bomber, derided for his corpulent weirdo appearance (Jay Leno called him the “Una-doofus” and a federal agent called him “Unabubba“), and finally dead at age 44 from heart failure and diabetes, which was partially due to genes (bad luck) but almost certainly exacerbated by too many cupcakes. Poor guy, hard knocks, tough life.
No one is allowed to mention the unmentionable element in this sad saga (you will certainly never hear a word about this from the fine folks at Indiewire), but I’m going to mention it anyway. Does anyone believe that Jewell would have been zeroed in on and accused as much as he was if he’d looked like Jon Hamm instead of Paul Walter Hauser? People saw a moustachioed beach ball and figured, “He looks like a dweeby basement dweller…he has an aura of otherness about him…has this guy ever worked out?…he probably wakes up for snacks at 3 am.”
Jewell was unfortunately guilty of not looking like Cary Grant, but otherwise everyone was wrong — Jewell was innocent of wrongdoing. The authorities ultimately nabbed, convicted and imprisoned another guy for the bombing.
Clint Eastwood’s film (Warner Bros., 12.13) will be all about Jewell’s raw deal, and how the news media machine (especially Atlanta Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, with a special boost from NBC’s Tom Brokaw) turned his life upside down and sent poor Richard into the darkest corners of hell.
Sam Rockwell has the good-guy role, portraying Jewell’s real-life attorney L. Lin Wood but under another name, “Watson Bryant.”