Clint Eastwood is targeting The Ballad of Richard Jewell to be his next directorial project. The film, which has been in development for a number of years, is based on the true story of the 1996 Olympics bombing. Jewell, a security guard at the event, was originally deemed a hero after he discovered what looked to be a bomb and cleared the area, saving a number of lives in the process. However, Jewell later became a suspect, and though he was wrongly blamed for the incident, it understandably had a severely negative impact on his life.
Back in 2016, Ezra Edelman (best known for OJ: Made in America) signed on to direct The Ballad of Richard Jewell, but progress on the film ground to a halt shortly after that. Now, it's found a new lease on life, thanks to one of Hollywood's biggest icons coming onboard.
According to Deadline, Eastwood is currently in talks with Disney/Fox to helm The Ballad of Richard Jewell. At one point, the film was going to be a reunion for Wolf of Wall Street co-stars Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio (portraying Jewell and his lawyer, respectively), but latest word is they've both departed the project. Eastwood will be tasked with recruiting a cast prior to a summer shooting date.
Even though Eastwood is approaching his 89th birthday, he remains as busy as ever. He just pulled double duty on The Mule, directing and starring in last December's crime drama (which was his second directorial outing of 2018). Funnily enough, this isn't his first rodeo with The Ballad of Richard Jewell; in 2015, he was circling the project, meaning this is clearly a story he's had his eye on for some time. When Eastwood first approached the movie, the tag team of Hill and DiCaprio were still involved, so it'll be interesting to see if either of the actors rejoins. DiCaprio has some history with Eastwood, headlining the director's J. Edgar in 2011, and he is serving as one of Richard Jewell's producers.
Eastwood is known for his quick turnarounds, completing films at a very quick pace. If The Ballad of Richard Jewell does in fact commence production this summer, there's a distinct possibility it will be ready for release in the winter, making it a potential awards season contender. Admittedly, Eastwood's track record of late has been a little hit-or-miss, but American Sniper was a massive success from a critical and commercial perspective, showing he still has what it takes to deliver a high-quality product. The Ballad of Richard Jewell certainly has the necessary ingredients to make a captivating drama, so hopefully all the right pieces fall into place.