Paul Walter Hauser will play Richard Jewell, the overweight security guard who was falsely and widely accused by news media types of having planted a bomb during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in Clint Eastwood‘s The Ballad of Richard Jewell.
My first thought when I read this was “I know that the Jonah Hill + Leonardo DiCaprio version of this project went south a couple of years ago, but what happened exactly?”
I’m frankly not delighted about Hauser playing Jewell, mainly because he’s played so many low-rent scumbags that he’s convinced me that he might not be acting on a certain level. Hill would’ve been a slamdunk, but I’m not sure I can get engage with Hauser, root for him, identify with his plight.
Hauser, 32, alluded to this perception last year during a BlacKkKlansman red-carpet interview:
“Unfortunately because of how I look, a chubby, slightly awkward white dude, [I’ve gotten] cast as a lot of scummy dudes lately, and I play a real scummy dude in BlacKkKlansman. [Also] I Tonya…anytime I’m on a sitcom I play a doofus or an ayehole, but you know, those [roles] are fun to play, somebody’s got to do it, I’ll do ’em.”
The conservative-minded Eastwood is doing The Ballad of Richard Jewell, of course, because of the anti-news media narrative.
In Jewel’s case the narrative (which unfolded over 88 days from late July to late October of ’96) was earned and then some. Several reporters and commentators (including the Atlanta Constitution‘s Kathy Scruggs and NBC’s Tom Brokaw) fingered Jewell as the likely Atlanta bomber without having all the facts.
Jewell’s tragedy nonetheless feeds into Trump’s fake news mythology, and Eastwood’s film, you bet, will almost certainly strike a chord in America’s heartland or, you know, with the same ticket-buyers who flocked to Clint’s American Sniper and chortled along with Grant Torino‘s Walt Kowalski.
Full disclosure: Hollywood Elsewhere loved Gran Torino from the get-go. I also liked the geriatric drug-smuggling thing, The Mule. I wasn’t much of a fan of American Sniper, in part because Bradley Cooper looked too fat and also because of that fake animatronic baby scene.
Here’s a great interview, by the way, between Jewell and Norm McDonald.
The Ballad of Richard Jewell will costar Olivia Wilde as Kathy Scruggs, Jon Hamm as an FBI guy, Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s attorney, and Kathy Bates as Jewell’s mother Bobi.