Clint Eastwood's new film restores the security guard's "hero" status, whose life was shattered by accusations that he bombed the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, the director and the filmmakers announced on Wednesday. stars.
"Richard Jewell" tells the story of an innocent man who found himself at the center of a terrorist investigation and a devastating media storm as a result. explosion at the Summer Games that left two dead and more than 100 wounded.
The former policeman was hailed as a hero after spotting the Centennial Olympic Park bomb, saving hundreds of people, but was quickly identified by reporters as an FBI suspect.
"He has never had the benefit of being innocent until proven otherwise," Eastwood told reporters on the red carpet of his world premiere at AFI Fest. from Los Angeles.
Jewell was "prejudiced before the knowledge is really there," added the 89-year-old director.
Never arrested or charged, Jewell was acquitted by the FBI after 88 days. But TV stations camped outside his home for a long time, chasing Jewell and his family.
He has become the subject of wild speculation and ridicule. Jewell had returned to his mother's house in her thirties after being demoted for crushing her police car.
Jewell sued several media outlets for defamation, claiming that their reports described him as a person with a strange and possibly guilty personality.
The former animator of "Tonight Show", Jay Leno, is excused after baptizing Jewell "Unadoofus", a pun on the notorious murderer "Unabomber".
"He did not deserve it, he was a real hero and he was tried by the media before the facts became known," said Jon Hamm, who plays the FBI agent, at the press. ; AFP.
"This can happen again and it happens all the time, because the information goes even faster now," warned the "Mad Men" star.
But the film itself has already sparked controversy.
Kathy Scruggs, the true journalist of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), who for the first time identified Jewell as a suspect, is one of her main characters.
Scruggs, described by Olivia Wilde, is pictured trading with an FBI agent (Hamm) in exchange for learning the suspect's identity.
In an email sent Wednesday to AFP, the newspaper's editor, Kevin G. Riley, said the depiction of the late Scruggs was "shocking and deeply disturbing in the #MeToo era."
"There is no evidence that this has happened before," he wrote.
Riley also defended the newspaper 's supply sources by writing that Jewell' s investigation was about to be made public and that later reports of AJC had allowed the newspaper to go public. exonerate Jewell.
The real culprit, Eric Rudolph, was arrested in 2003 after a series of bombings against abortion clinics and a gay disco. He was sentenced to life without parole two years later.
In 2007, Jewell died of natural causes at the age of 44.
"This is not a revisionist story," said Paul Walter Hauser, who plays Jewell in the film. "We highlight the story and the truth."