the ballad of richard jewell cast

Clint Eastwood‘s The Ballad of Richard Jewell has found its first cast member in Sam Rockwell. The Oscar-winning actor will play the lawyer who defended Richard Jewell, the security guard who was falsely accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Jewell was hailed as a hero at first when he discovered the device, but his life quickly went to hell when law enforcement made him their prime suspect.

Variety broke the news about Sam Rockwell joining The Ballad of Richard Jewell cast, playing the lawyer of the eponymous character. Jewell was working as a security guard at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when he discovered an abandoned backpack that contained an explosive device. In the blink of an eye, Jewell went from hero to villain:

As law enforcement asserted Jewell planted the bomb himself and then “found” it to make himself a hero, the city reopened the park and attempted to calm a terrified public while the real lone wolf perpetrator remained at large. Jewell maintained his innocence throughout and was finally fully cleared by the FBI 88 days later, though his reputation was never restored and his health forever damaged. While Jewell eventually became a police officer, he died of heart failure a few years later at the age of 44.

The film, adapted from the Vanity Fair story by Marie Brenner, will be helmed by Clint Eastwood. Billy Ray wrote the script. The project has been in development for a few years, and at one point was set to reunite The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. DiCaprio was going to play the lawyer character now played by Rockwell, while Hill would play Jewell. Eastwood has yet to cast anyone as Jewell for his adaptation, though. Fox was originally going to distribute, but after the Disney-Fox deal, the film has moved to Warner Bros.

Rockwell is a great actor, and this is indeed an interesting story and could make for one hell of a movie. My only sticking-point here is Eastwood. Don’t get me wrong: Eastwood can be a masterful director. But the director’s recent movies have been rather flat and lackluster, and I’d probably be a bit more excited if a different filmmaker were tackling the material. Fingers crossed that things turn out for the best in the end.

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