Clint Eastwood and Paul Walter Hauser on the Inspiration Behind ‘Richard Jewell’

     December 13, 2019

Clint Eastwood is back this awards season with another film about a real life event that might lead to another Best Picture nomination: Richard Jewell. The latest offering from the iconic actor and director stars Paul Walter Hauser as the titular Richard Jewell who was working as a security guard during the 1996 Sumer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia when he discovered a bag filled with pipe bombs. Alerting the nearby police, Jewell helps to evacuate the area and saves several lives in the process. Hailed as a hero initially by the media and the public, he is named a “person of interest” by the authorities just a few days later. The media which had just embraced him turns on him and along with the authorities they conspired to turn the lives of Richard and his mother Bobi (Kathy Bates) into a living nightmare.

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Image via Claire Folger/Warner Bros.

Before the film’s release, I achieved a lifelong dream of sitting down with Clint Eastwood to interview him about a project of his. Hauser joined us as well and both men spoke to me about why they felt this was an important story to tell at this time in our country’s history. We also discussed how Hauser prepared to play the deceased Jewell and what he hoped his performance would capture about the soul of the man. Eastwood reveals why he is drawn to tell stories where the protagonist has to fight the system in order to succeed and in the process exposes the corruption inherent in the system. Hauser talks about how he hopes this film does justice to the memory of Richard Jewell. Eastwood also answers a question I have had about Unforgiven since the film came out in 1992. Richard Jewell is now in theaters and also stars Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde and Jon Hamm.

Clint Eastwood and Paul Walter Hauser:

  • Paul: What was the experience of getting to work with the great Clint Eastwood?
  • Clint: What inspired you to tell this story at this time in your life and in our country’s history?

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    Image via Claire Folger/Warner Bros.

  • Clint: What draws him to create these films where the normal guy has to fight the system?
  • Paul: Were you familiar with the story before you came on to the project and what surprised you during your preparation for the role?
  • Clint: Are you ever going to direct a comedy again like you did a few times when you started directing in the 1970s?
  • Clint: Is there a Director’s Cut of Unforgiven that you have been waiting to release down the road?

Here’s the official synopsis for Richard Jewell:

Directed by Clint Eastwood and based on true events, “Richard Jewell” is a story of what happens when what is reported as fact obscures the truth.

“There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.” The world is first introduced to Richard Jewell as the security guard who reports finding the device at the 1996 Atlanta bombing—his report making him a hero whose swift actions save countless lives. But within days, the law enforcement wannabe becomes the FBI’s number one suspect, vilified by press and public alike, his life ripped apart. Reaching out to independent, anti-establishment attorney Watson Bryant, Jewell staunchly professes his innocence. But Bryant finds he is out of his depth as he fights the combined powers of the FBI, GBI and APD to clear his client’s name, while keeping Richard from trusting the very people trying to destroy him

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