See, 20th Century Fox is developing Marie Brenner's 1997 Vanity Fair article "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell" as an inevitable awards season heavy hitter. Two-time Oscar nominee Hill is set to star as Jewell with five-time nominee DiCaprio playing Jewell's lawyer and also producing through his Appian Way banner.
With a screenplay by another Oscar nominee, Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass), the Jewell drama has attracted plenty of attention from top-tier directors like David O. Russell and Paul Greengrass, who came close but opted instead to return to the Bourne Identity franchise with Matt Damon.
Now Eastwood is "seriously circling" the project, according to Deadline. And Fox would no doubt love for Eastwood to direct, but he has been making movies exclusively at Warner Bros. for decades. He's 84 years old, so Eastwood isn't about to change and desert Warners just because the whippersnappers from Superbad and Growing Pains have some promising material.
So if Eastwood is to direct American Nightmare, Fox and WB will have to work out some sort of co-producing deal. It's sort of like Interstellar, where Christopher Nolan's loyalty to Warners led to a co-financing deal between WB and Paramount. In this case, however, both sides are reportedly wary of making such a deal, so don't count on American Nightmare being a Clint Eastwood film just yet.
Jewell's story is a tough one that is illustrative of the dangers of the contemporary twenty-four hour news cycle and the willingness to presume guilt within that cycle. A thirty-four-year-old former sheriff's deputy, Jewell was working as a security guard at the Atlanta games in 1996 when he discovered a suspicious backpack at the Olympic compound. Alerting the police and helping evacuate the area before the bomb detonated, Jewell was initially called a hero. Within days, however, the media turned on Jewell, hard, with many outright declared him a lone bomber out for attention.
On evidence charitably described as circumstantial, Jewell found himself the target of an FBI investigation and the subject of vicious attacks from national newspapers to late-night talk shows. After being ground under the machinery of quick-to-judge media, Jewell was exonerated before his death in 2007, but his ordeal took a huge toll on the poor guy, who many, many Americans still believe to be responsible for the bombing that killed one person and injured over a hundred others.