Wolf of Wall Street costars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have plans to reunite on a film about the aftermath of the 1996 Olympics bombing, currently referred to as either American Nightmare or The Ballad of Richard Jewell (in lieu of an official title). The film in the making – based on Marie Brenner’s 1997 Vanity Fair article “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell” – is being scripted by Bill Ray, who picked up an Oscar nomination for his work on last year’s Captain Phillips.
Deadline is reporting that the project has now attracted Captain Phillips helsman Paul Greengrass, who is circling the Richard Jewell project and could make the film his next docudrama-esque directorial effort. Greengrass was once prepping the Martin Luther King Jr. memoir Memphis as his followup to Captain Phillips, but that historical thriller appears to have fallen by the wayside, after it failed to gain the needed studio backing (unlike the MLK biopic Selma that opens in theaters this December).
The American Nightmare movie shall tell the tale of how Richard Jewell (Hill), an ordinary security guard, discovered a suspicious backpack on the grounds of the 1996 Olympics compound in Atlanta and was able to save the lives of numerous bystanders by sounding the alarm on what proved to be a legitimate bomb threat. However, soon thereafter Jewell was publicly vilified as the possible mastermind behind the bombing, and had only his (sorta) friend Watson Bryant (DiCaprio) – a lawyer whose speciality was in real estate closings – to help him.
Richard Jewell’s story sounds like a tale that would very much benefit from having Greengrass call the shots on a cinematic rendition. Greengrass’ journalism-inspired filmmaking aesthetic (read: handheld “shaky cam” and rapid editing) instills his movies with a sense of urgency and immediacy that seems befitting of the Jewell saga – much as it did the second and third Bourne films, as well as the 9/11 drama/thriller United 93 and Captain Phillips.
Greengrass and Ray were able to retell Captain Phillips’s story onscreen in a way that allowed it to play out as both a compelling character drama and an insightful parable for larger social/political issues. That approach likewise seem befitting of the tale of Richard Jewell, as the American Nightmare article is not just the documentation of one person’s living nightmare, but also the story of the dark side of the 24-hour news cycle and modern media. In short, here’s to hoping Greengrass signs on for this project.
In the meantime, both DiCaprio and Hill will be keeping busy with other potential movie awards season contenders. DiCaprio is up next for filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu’s western/revenge film The Revenant for an Oscar-qualitfying late December 2015 release, while Hill is going to appear in the Coen Brothers’ upcoming 1950s Hollywood comedy/satire Hail, Caesar! (also expected in theaters by 2015).
We’ll continue to keep you up-to-speed on news about the American Nightmare/The Ballad of Richard Jewell movie.