Sam Rockwell, A Street-Smart Crusading Lawyer In “Richard Jewell”

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Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) plays the crusading lawyer who defends a wrongly accused man, in Warner Bros. Pictures’ suspenseful real-life drama, “Richard Jewell” (in Philippine cinemas January 15).

The world is first introduced to Richard Jewell as the security guard who reports finding the device at the 1996 Atlanta Games bombing—his quick thinking making him a hero whose swift actions save countless lives. But within days, the law enforcement wannabe will become the FBI’s number one suspect, vilified in the court of public opinion, his life ripped apart. Directed by Clint Eastwood, “Richard Jewell” centers around the events that forever made his name synonymous with that terrible act.

When Richard (Paul Walter Hauser) finds that he needs legal advice, he reaches out to the only attorney he knows, whom he befriended during a brief stint as an office mail clerk years prior: independent, anti-establishment lawyer Watson Bryant.

Rockwell immediately gravitated toward the character of Watson Bryant, and the relationship between him and Richard. “Watson is the right fit for Richard as an attorney because he’s a father figure or an older brother archetype. There is friendship but also mentoring that goes on between them, and I think that relationship is the heart of the film, in a way.”

Rockwell spent time with Hauser, in preparation for filming. “Paul and I got together in New York about ten days before shooting. We spent about three days together, inseparable, and read the script out loud. And we actually sat with the screenwriter, Billy Ray, had a coffee with him, and talked about the story. And then we met with my dialect coach, and we worked with her for a while on the different dialects. It was really beneficial for me and Paul to do that because we bonded, which I think you’ll sense on screen as well.”

The actor appreciated the opportunity to work with Eastwood. “Whenever you’re dealing with an actor-director, you immediately get a lot of compassion from them because they know what it’s like to be in front of the camera, and all the neuroses that go along with that. Clint is an incredibly compassionate actors’ director, and very trusting of you, lets you play. And I admire his interest in telling stories about injustice and about people who are underestimated and then rise to the occasion, like Richard Jewell.”

“I’ve always admired Sam,” Eastwood says. “The way he manages to envelop the roles that he does and make them very personal. I thought he’d be great for the role of Watson, and he was, he had him down pretty pat.”

“Richard Jewell” also stars Kathy Bates (“Misery,” TV’s “American Horror Story”) as Richard’s mom, Bobi; Jon Hamm (“Baby Driver”) as the lead FBI investigator; Olivia Wilde (“Life Itself”) as Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs; and Paul Walter Hauser (“I, Tonya”) as Richard Jewell.

“Richard Jewell” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company. Connect with the hashtag #RichardJewell

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