|REEL FACE:||REAL FACE:|
Paul Walter Hauser
Born: October 15, 1986
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Born: December 17, 1962
Birthplace: Danville, Georgia, USA
Death: August 29, 2007, Woodbury, Georgia, USA (complications from diabetes)
Born: November 5, 1968
Daly City, California, USA
Born: July 15, 1951
Born: June 28, 1948
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Born: March 10, 1984
New York City, New York, USA
Born: September 26, 1958
Birthplace: Athens, Georgia, USA
Death: September 2, 2001, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (drug overdose)
Born: September 18, 1984
New York City, New York, USA
Born: July 25, 1961
Watson Bryant's Secretary and Future Wife
Born: September 19, 1966
Birthplace: Merritt Island, Florida, USA
Olympic Park Bomber
Yes. As strange as this sounds, the Richard Jewell true story confirms that it is accurate. His tummy trouble comes straight from Marie Brenner's 1997 Vanity Fair profile of Richard Jewell, titled "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell". The article is included in her book Richard Jewell: And Other Tales of Heroes, Scoundrels, and Renegades. He was convinced it was from a bad hamburger he had eaten the day before.
Centennial Olympic Park was the epicenter of the Olympic festivities in Atlanta. On the night of July 27, 1996, a crowd of thousands gathered to enjoy a late-night concert. Richard Jewell, who was working as a security guard at the Olympics, discovered a green backpack underneath a bench sometime after midnight. The backpack contained a fragmentation-laden pipe bomb that was filled with nails and screws.
It was later discovered that amateur video had captured 13 seconds of dark, grainy footage of the bench with the bomb underneath (pictured below). Investigators worked with NASA scientists, including astrophysicist David Hathaway, to enhance the image of the backpack in the video. Hathaway had spent 30 years using technology to improve images of solar activity on the sun. In this case, he had 400 frames to work with, which he combined and averaged together to get the much clearer image of the backpack with the bomb visible inside (displayed below, inset).
Initially hailed as a hero for finding the bomb and escorting many of the spectators to safety, the perception of Jewell changed three days later when his hometown newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, broke the news that the F.B.I. was treating Jewell as a potential suspect, running the headline, "F.B.I. suspects hero guard may have planted bomb." CNN, the AP, and other news outlets read the headline verbatim and the F.B.I. leak quickly spread to around the world.
The Journal-Constitution's article claimed that Jewell fit the "lone bomber" criminal profile. The media ran with it and assumed he was likely responsible, referring to him as a "person of interest". Like in the movie, they portrayed him as a failed law enforcement officer who planted the bomb so that he could discover it and play the hero. They attempted to fit aspects of his life into the "hero bomber" profile, though it was later discovered that no such profile had existed in the F.B.I.'s database at the time. The profile was instead invented to fit Richard Jewell. The article also compared him to convicted child murderer Wayne Williams. Other media outlets levied similar attacks. The New York Post called him "a fat, failed former sheriff's deputy." The Philadelphia Daily News ran the front-page headline "Bubba the Bomber?"
Late-night host Jay Leno poked fun at him, calling him the "Unadoofus" and comparing him to the guy who whacked Nancy Kerrigan, asking his audience, "What is it about the Olympic Games that brings out big fat stupid guys?" Coincidentally, Paul Walter Hauser, who portrays Jewell in the movie, played one of the guys who orchestrated the attack on Nancy Kerrigan in 2017's I, Tonya.
Yes. Analyzing the Richard Jewell fact vs. fiction reveals that details from his past certainly didn't do him any favors when it came to his innocence. For example, back when Jewell was working as a jailer for the Habersham County Sheriff's office, he had been arrested for impersonating a police officer when he was doing after-hours security work at an apartment building. He arrested a couple making too much noise in a hot tub. He was eventually promoted to deputy but wrecked his patrol car in 1995 and was demoted back to jailer. Stuck in a small room filled with cigarette smoke, he found the position unbearable and resigned.
He was then hired to work as a campus police officer at Piedmont College. He was instrumental in a number of arrests but eventually resigned after he fell under scrutiny for several controversial arrests.
Essentially, he was depicted by the media as an overweight wannabe and mama's boy who was living with his mother while dreaming of finding success in law enforcement. He told Vanity Fair, "If I was in the place of everybody else and I saw a 34-year-old guy living with his mother, I would have reservations about that, too. I would think, Why is he doing that?" It didn't help that Richard Jewell had a gun collection and two hollowed-out grenades that he had purchased at a military supply store to use as paperweights.
Yes. Like in the movie, Attaway came over for lasagna and discussed the bombing late into the night. Richard even drew Attaway a diagram of the sound-and-light tower. Only later was Richard informed that Attaway was wearing a wire.
Yes. While answering the question, "How accurate is Richard Jewell?" we verified that this is indeed true. Richard Jewell didn't start to become aware that he was a suspect until the F.B.I. served him with a waiver of rights after agents Don Johnson and Diader Rosario first tricked him into coming to F.B.I. headquarters and speaking with them, telling him he was going to be part of a training video for Quantico. Johnson and Rosario are portrayed by Jon Hamm and Ian Gomez in the movie and are renamed Tom Shaw and Dan Bennet. Jewell fully became aware of the F.B.I.'s deception when his lawyer, Watson Bryant, called him back at F.B.I. headquarters to tell him he was a suspect. This all seems to be accurately depicted in the movie.
Later, an investigation by the Justice Department into the F.B.I.'s actions concluded that the F.B.I. had indeed tricked Richard Jewell into speaking with them and attempted to manipulate him into waiving his constitutional rights by lying and telling him he was going to be part of a training video pertaining to bomb detection. Despite lying to Jewell, the Justice Department's report concluded that there had been "no intentional violation of Mr. Jewell's civil rights and no criminal misconduct" on the part of the F.B.I. At most, the F.B.I. was reprimanded for its conduct, which included leaking information, tricking Jewell, and mishandling the case. Four agents faced disciplinary action, including Jon Hamm's character's real-life counterpart, F.B.I. agent Don Johnson, who was suspended for five days without pay (WSB-TV).
Though this didn't make it into the movie, the Richard Jewell true story confirms that he was obsessed with law enforcement and was always eager to accommodate. Him purposely wearing a bright shirt is included in Marie Brenner's February 1997 Vanity Fair article. While leaving his mother's apartment, Richard Jewell told the F.B.I. agents, "I am wearing a bright shirt so y'all can see me easier."
Yes. Southern lawyer Watson Bryant (portrayed by Sam Rockwell in the movie) was an old friend who Jewell hadn't spoken to in years. It's true that they had met while they were both working at the Small Business Administration (Jewell as a clerk and Bryant as a lawyer). Bryant moved on and was working as a lawyer for real estate closings. He did not have a legal staff, other than his assistant, Nadya Light. Eventually, famed attorney Lin Wood was brought in to help with the defamation lawsuits against the media, including NBC and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
No. Richard Jewell was never charged. However, he endured a brutal "trial" by those in the media, who sensationalized the story and made him their prime suspect. As seen in the film, it ruined his reputation and damaged both his career and personal life.
Yes. This is in line with the true story. The news media that were camped outside Bobi Jewell's apartment used all the tools at their disposal, including zoom lenses and sound dishes, to try and pick up conversations coming from inside. Initially, the apartment was also receiving roughly 1,000 phone calls per day after someone posted Bobi Jewell's number on the Internet.
It took more than seven years for the actual bomber, Eric Robert Rudolph, to be captured. Shortly after the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics, Rudolph bombed two more sites in Georgia (an abortion clinic and a lesbian bar) and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, the latter of which claimed the life of Birmingham police officer and part-time clinic security guard Robert Sanderson. Following a five-year F.B.I. manhunt, Eric Rudolph was finally apprehended on May 31, 2003 behind a rural grocery story in Murphy, North Carolina while rummaging through a trash bin. Rudolph had been hiding out in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Yes and no. While most of the questions were taken verbatim from the real-life interview, Watson Bryant wasn't the lawyer who was present during the questioning. By that point, Bryant had recruited the help of attorneys Lin Wood and Jack Martin. It was Martin, a criminal specialist, who was in the room with Jewell. Also, it appears that the F.B.I. agents portrayed by Jon Hamm and Ian Gomez, who originally questioned Jewell, were not present for the interview. Instead, U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander's second-in-command John Davis, G.B.I. special agent Larry Landers, and F.B.I. special agent Bill Lewis presented the list of questions to Jewell.
It's true that Jewell made it a point to emphasize he wasn't gay, as one of the F.B.I.'s theories had previously suggested. He also explained that he wanted to work near the sound-and-light tower so that he could enjoy the concerts, including having his mom come to see Kenny Rogers four days before the bombing. He did tell someone when he was leaving for Centennial Park that he was "going to be in that mess down there," referring to the traffic in Atlanta. When they questioned him about times, he explained that "when you have the runs, you are not really concerned about what time it is." The real-life interview was less climactic and lasted much longer, six hours. An actual park bench was even brought in as a prop. -Vanity Fair
Yes. He sued NBC for the following statement made on air by Tom Brokaw, "The speculation is that the F.B.I. is close to making the case. They probably have enough to arrest him right now, probably enough to prosecute him, but you always want to have enough to convict him as well. There are still some holes in this case." NBC refused to retract Brokaw's statement, but they did agree to pay Jewell $500,000. Jewell also sued CNN and the New York Post, settling with each for undisclosed amounts. In all, it is believed that he received more than $2 million dollars in settlements (60 Minutes).
Richard Jewell died on August 29, 2007 as the result of heart failure due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. He was 44. His mother, Bobi Jewell, feels that the stress from his ordeal contributed to his early death.
Dig deeper into the Richard Jewell fact vs. fiction analysis by watching the press conference, interview, and Atlanta Olympic bombing documentary featured below.