EXCLUSIVE: Ezra Edelman, who directed and produced the critically acclaimed documentary O. J. Made In America, is negotiating to direct the movie based on the life of Richard Jewell, whose world went into a tailspin after it was leaked by law enforcement to a reporter that the security guard was a possible suspect in the Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Once written by an overzealous reporter at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jewell went from hero to one of the most hated men in America. Jonah Hill is still aboard to play Jewell from a script by Billy Ray (Captain Phillips).
Jewell discovered a suspicious backpack in the Olympics compound, cleared the area and saved lives that day, but after he was falsely accused he became a pariah. The project, based on the Vanity Fair article “The Ballad Of Richard Jewell,” was brought into 20th Century Fox two years ago.
Leonardo DiCaprio was initially circling the role as Jewell’s lawyer who was a family friend who mostly did real estate closings before being enveloped by a case that had international media attention. Even though the FBI cleared Jewell as a suspect three months later, the true American hero never fully got his reputation back or his confidence in himself, and his health was forever damaged.
Jewell, who later became a police officer, died in 2007 of a heart attack at the age of 44.
The film will be produced by Appian Way’s DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hill and Kevin Misher, the latter of whom brought in the article. Misher Films’ Andy Berman also will have a producing role. Mike Ireland is overseeing for Fox.
Several directors have circled this project at one point or another including Paul Greengrass, David O. Russell and Clint Eastwood.