We’ve been reporting on The Ballad of Richard Jewell, an upcoming project that looks to reunite The Wolf of Wall Street co-stars and Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, for some time now. The film recounts the days of the bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta when Jewell, working as security guard, discovered a suspicious backpack and helped clear bystanders. Branded a hero, then a possible suspect in the event, the buzzy title has been in development at Fox since earlier this year. Today, comes word that Oscar nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass (United 93) may be circling to direct.Last spring, it was announced that Billy Ray (The Hunger Games) was being brought aboard to pen the script, an adaptation of Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article. Ray was nominated for an Oscar this past year for his work on Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, another true-to-life story about seemingly ordinary men thrown into perilous, demoralizing, terrain.
Beyond that, The Ballad of Richard Jewell makes a sort of tonal sense in Greengrass’ overall filmography, which has mostly consisted of dramatic thrillers steeped in topical events, commenting on American and global politics. Greengrass earned an Academy Award nomination for 2006’s United 93, about one of the doomed September 11th planes. Even his Bourne films (Greengrass directed the second and third installments of the series), amidst all the shaky-cam, carry the weight of social responsibility underneath its genre roots.
As reported earlier, Hill appears a-go to play Jewell. DiCaprio looks set to play the Southern attorney who takes on Jewell’s case after he is branded a terrorist. Both actors will also produce the project, along with Jennifer Davisson Killoran (The Ides of March) and Kevin Misher (Public Enemies.) Based on subject matter talent already assembled, The Ballad of Richard Jewell already seemed like a project well keeping an eye on, even before Greengrass’ interest (though he’s not yet confirmed and signed). We will report more on this title as more information becomes available.