Coming off the Oscar-nominated American Sniper, director Clint Eastwood has his pick of projects right now, and though he’s being aggressively courted for a number of them, the title that insiders say he’s most interested in is The Ballad of Richard Jewell.
A drama that centers on the security guard who heroically uncovered a knapsack bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, only to be smeared as a possible terrorist suspect in the subsequent media coverage, The Ballad of Richard Jewell got its start with Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio, who sought to adapt Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article of the same name.
Hill is planning to star as Jewell, and DiCaprio is mulling the role of Jewell’s lawyer, who works tirelessly to clear his client’s name during a media firestorm despite having previously worked mostly in real estate. Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) wrote the script.
Eastwood’s commitment is far from firm at the moment, as he’s considering a bunch of promising projects. It’s housed at 20th Century Fox, and the coveted director has a lot of loyalty to Warner Bros., so should he sign on, the studios would likely have to collaborate to figure out how to share him.
The Ballad of Richard Jewell was previously eyed by Paul Greengrass, who worked with Ray on Captain Phillips, but the director has reportedly abandoned the project in favor of reteaming with Matt Damon for another Bourne movie, leaving the door wide open for Eastwood if he wants the project. Given that the director’s desk is no doubt overflowing with offers right now, though, he could easily go a different route for his next film.
Regardless of who ends up directing it, the stranger-than-fiction story of Richard Jewell is just too interesting to stay stationary for long. And given that DiCaprio and Hill’s last collaboration, The Wolf of Wall Street, earned them both Oscar nominations, it’s not hard to see The Ballad of Richard Jewell ending up as a prestige pic whenever it makes its way to the big screen.