Jonah Hill may have roots in off-color comedy, but in recent years he’s begun padding his resumé with weightier roles. Along with Academy Award-nominated performances in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street, his starring part in 2015 mystery thriller True Story marked a major departure from his previous work, and his turn as arms dealer Efraim Diveroli in 2016 dramedy War Dogs was praised as a standout performance for the film.
Hill has since signed on to reunite with Wolf of Wall Street cohort Leonardo DiCaprio for The Ballad of Richard Jewell, a biopic rehashing Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic bombing. Jason Bourne director Paul Greengrass was initially pegged to helm the project based on a script from Captain Phillips screenwriter Billy Ray, but rumors soon swirled that Clint Eastwood was interested in taking the reins.
Now, THR has confirmed that the director’s chair has landed with Ezra Edelman, who led the acclaimed documentary OJ: Made In America earlier this year. He previously helmed three documentaries for HBO Sports, making the upcoming movie his feature directorial debut. It’s unclear why Eastwood fell through, as his latest directing endeavor, bio drama Sully, hit theaters with critical praise in September. The Ballad of Richard Jewell is currently in development at 20th Century Fox, so it’s possible he simply didn’t want to jump ship from his work with Warner Bros.
Hill is attached to play the film’s titular role, a security guard who initially uncovered and reported the Olympic bomb, but quickly descended from hero to suspect after being publicly demonized. DiCaprio is slated to portray Jewell’s friend, a lawyer who ultimately helped clear Jewell’s name despite having a background in real estate. Jewell himself died in 2007 at the age of 44 due to health issues.
The Ballad of Richard Jewell is a big get for Edelman, considering his experience thus far has been centered on sports. Still, the ties between Jewell’s story and O.J. Simpon’s trial -- the murder case at the heart of Made In America -- are hard to ignore. Both scenarios played out very publicly and were fueled by media speculation. Despite being a Hollywood newcomer, Edelman has proved his prowess at adapting true crime to screen. A successful feature debut could mark a career breakthrough. His presence adds a refreshing mix to the otherwise star-powered roster.
A release date for The Ballad of Richard Jewell has not yet been announced.