‘O.J.: Made in America’ Director in Talks to Helm Jonah Hill’s Richard Jewell Movie
O.J.: Made in America was one of the best longform documentaries of this year, and stunned audiences with its extremely in-depth case study of O.J. Simpson as a product of the racism and prejudice of his time. Now the producer and director of that documentary, Ezra Edelman, is in talks to direct a movie based on Richard Jewell, the security guard whose life was ruined after he was reported to be a suspect of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Centennial Park bombings.
Jewell was working at the Games as a security guard with AT&T at the time, and discovered a backpack containing pipe bombs near the park. He alerted security and got people evacuated from the area, and was initially hailed as a hero before the press caught wind that he was considered a suspect. After that hit the news, Jewell became one of the most hated people in the country, and though he was exonerated, his reputation never recovered. His story is a prime example of how bad and unreliable reporting can wreck the life of someone who did all the right things — in other words, the perfect subject for the director of a documentary in which the main villain was skewed public perception.
The project is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” which 20th Century Fox bought the rights to produce two years ago, Deadline reports. Leonardo DiCaprio will produce, and was also in negotiations for the role of Jewell’s lawyer and family friend. Jonah Hill remains onboard to play Jewell himself, and the movie will have a script penned by Captain Phillips screenwriter Billy Ray. In addition to Edelman, several other directors have considered taking on the project, including Clint Eastwood, David O. Russell, and Paul Greengrass.