Richard Jewell Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Houser) is a chubby man who dreams of defending law and order. In his thirties, he lives with his mother, Bobby (Kathy Bates), and works as a small-time housekeeping clerk, but Richard believes that a career awaits him in the police, the FBI, or some other intelligence agency.

At some point, Richard managed to become a policeman, and he was put in charge of keeping order on the student campus, but Richard showed such inappropriate zeal in his work and so scrupulously demanded that everyone comply with laws and regulations that he was eventually kicked out of the police.

In Atlanta, where Richard lives, the 1996 Olympics are taking place, and Richard managed to get a job as a security guard in Centennial Park.

On July 27, when a concert was taking place in Centennial Park, Richard discovered an orphan backpack left under a bench. Richard has a job description, and he acted strictly as prescribed, despite the fact that other guards mocked him. But it turned out that Jewell was absolutely right: there were three tube bombs in the backpack. And if Richard had not insisted that the backpack could be dangerous and that people needed to be evacuated urgently, then there could have been much more victims of the explosion.

In the media, Jewell was initially praised and called a hero, but when FBI officer Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm), who was present at that very concert, began to study the identity of Richard, he found a lot of suspicious. It turns out that Jewell fits perfectly with the psychological profile of a lone terrorist who craves notoriety at any cost. In addition, he knows a lot about various crimes and collects weapons.

Shaw considers Richard as a possible suspect, and the FBI man leaks information about this to his acquaintance, journalist Katie Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), who specializes in scandalous articles. Katie writes and publishes an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, after which the life of Jewell and his mother turns into a concrete HELL: a crowd of journalists is constantly on duty under the windows of their house, Richard is dragged for interrogations, the FBI seizes Richard and Bobby’s personal belongings, Jewell has a round-the-clock observation.

When, during interrogation at the FBI, Richard was asked if he had a lawyer, he gave the name of Watson Brian (Sam Rockwell): Jewell talked to him when he worked as a supply manager. Watson’s business is going pretty lousy, and his secretary Nadia (Nina Arianda) persuades the boss to take over Richard’s case.


It was a sensational story. In fact, it was so: thanks to the vigilance of Richard Jewell, many lives were saved, for two days he became a national hero, and on the third day, after the article by Katie Scruggs, only the lazy did not spit in his direction. Richard and his mother went through terrible shocks, humiliation and outright persecution, Watson defended him, and in the end the guard was fully acquitted and rehabilitated. The terrorist Eric Rudolph, who planted the bomb, was found and arrested only six years after the explosion. And all these six years, Richard lived in the conditions of “proving nothing was proved, but the sediment remained”.

In 2006, ten years after these events, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue publicly thanked Jewell for saving people in Centennial Park. A year later, Richard Jewell died of heart failure and complications from diabetes. At that time, he worked as a deputy sheriff in Meriwether County, Georgia.

This story was told in The Suspects by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salven. The script for the film based on this book was written by Billy Ray and Mary Brenner.

“The Case of Richard Jewel” was directed by ninety year old Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood and it’s a really amazing movie, I didn’t expect to see anything like this. I watched some other films of Clint Eastwood, I knew that he, of course, is a real master, but I did not think that he would be able to place accents in this, in general, very difficult story so accurately and accurately.

But the task before him was very difficult. In the real story, there were a lot of subtleties to consider, there really were no absolute villains. And for all the absolutely monstrous injustice that Richard and his mother had to face, there was a certain combination of several factors that led to what happened. And Clint showed it all in exactly this way – quite objectively, without trying to turn this complex and multi-layered story into a cinematic lubok, and after all, many well-known directors who stage films based on real events could not always resist this temptation.

Did the FBI have reason to suspect Richard? More like it had. Were there cases when a person planted a bomb, then “discovered” it and presented himself as a hero? Yes they were. Was there anything about Jewell’s behavior that suggested that he could be that person? Allowed.

Shouldn’t the FBI have leaked information to journalists until they figured it all out? Well, they didn’t say that Richard had planted the bomb, they said that Jewell was a suspect, and it was.

The media shouldn’t have hounded Jewell until the investigation was done? They shouldn’t have, but the media always PR on a hot topic, that’s what they exist for. By the way, there was in reality a story with libel suits that Richard filed against The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NBC News, CNN and the New York Post. Three recent publications have paid compensation and issued official apologies to Jewell, but The Atlanta Journal-Constitution refused to pay compensation, and there was a precedent ruling by an appeals court that ruled that such articles could not form the basis of a defamation suit.

And now The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, appreciate the irony, accuses Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. of defamation. for the fact that, according to the film, Katie Scruggs, a journalist for the publication, slept with Tom Shaw in order to obtain information about the suspect. (The real Katie Scruggs died in 2001 of a drug overdose at the age of forty-two.)

Also, Eastwood, of course, is accused of sexism: and indeed, among these white misogynistic filmmakers, the image of a journalist who slept with a man for information is considered the norm, while everyone knows that in real life this can never be.

Clint Eastwood in his film abstracts from some of his personal assessments, he does not try to portray some people as some kind of monsters, and others as angels. He examines the confluence of circumstances that led to this, and he watches how a small person tries to maintain his own dignity in a monstrously unfair situation.

He shows Richard Jewell for what he is: a somewhat ridiculous person, a kind of “doughnut in a baseball cap”, living with his mom at the age of thirty and having all kinds of quirks. He is also homophobic: during the FBI investigation, when Richard was actually going to jail, Jewell was seriously concerned that the FBI would not consider him gay – this is clearly shown in the film.

Tom Shaw is not a monster at all. He is obliged to work out various versions – he works them out. With Richard, he communicates quite kindly, does not threaten, but tries to find out all the circumstances of the case. And that he leaked information to Katie – well, he didn’t lie, he just said that Jewell was also being considered. And after her article, everything started.

(By the way, in reality, it is not known who Katie got the information from, she did not disclose it. And one of the considerations of the appeals court, which dismissed the defamation suit, was that journalists are not required to disclose their sources.)

Is Katie Scruggs a monster in the movie? Yes, nothing like that, the usual shark-journalist. Moreover, Eastwood even flattered her, I think, by showing Katie remorse and tears during the Bobby Jewell press conference. I don’t think that the real Katie repented of something, professional journalists of such a plan will completely atrophy their conscience, this is an indispensable requirement, otherwise you will simply be unsuitable for professional work.

Now let’s talk about how it’s played. To be honest, I was simply struck by the little-known (before the release of this film) actor Paul Walter Houser, who played Richard. I saw him in the film Tonya vs. Everyone, where he played the weird fat Shaun Eckardt, who quite seriously considered himself a bodyguard and secret service agent, he also appeared in a small episodic role in the film Black Klansman, and here he is the main role.

And he is absolutely amazing! An infantile, oddball, and ludicrous puffball who plays video games is training to become a special agent, obsessed with obsessive obedience to all sorts of laws and regulations, demanding the same strict observance from others. He took the glory that fell upon him very nicely, he did not build any star out of himself. When they began to interrogate him at the FBI, he readily went to meet them and cooperated in everything: well, it’s the FBI, the personification of law and order!

And how gradually it began to dawn on Richard how exactly he had been treated and what the FBI he adored was doing, and how he began to fight for his human dignity. There is a great scene when Richard and his lawyer come to the FBI for the last time for a conversation: Watson is afraid that Richard, as usual, will be in awe of Tom Shaw and will not be able to stand up for himself, but he will already be able to do it.

There is also a very important moment when Watson, six years after these events, comes to Richard and tells him that the real bomber has finally been found. And look at Richard’s eyes: it’s kind of the same puffball, but he has a completely different look. He went through all this, he became a different person – Paul Walter Hauser managed to show this, it’s absolutely amazing!

There are also wonderful actors in this film, whom I love very much. Kathy Bates met and consulted with Bobi Jewell on numerous occasions. The amazingly powerful scene when Bobby spoke at the press conference was recorded on the first take: Katy was so pumped up by the whole story that her emotional level exactly coincided with the real Bobbi conference, so it was all filmed right away – Clint Eastwood He said that there is no need to do any more duplicates. Kathy Bates, a wonderful actress, this is one of the best roles, in my opinion. And there really was such a story: Bobby could not, without sobbing, give this speech written for her by Watson’s assistant, but Watson explained to her how important it was that she still said it all – on cameras for all of America. About his son, who was a hero, but he was declared a criminal. And Bobby did it – the recording of her performance was preserved, Katie saw this recording. It’s an amazing scene. Incredibly strong and realistic.

Sam Rockwell is one of my favorite actors. He plays great always and everywhere, even when he participates in frankly weak films. Here he played great. Watson meeting the fat man in the back room, Watson becoming the lawyer for the guy everyone in America hates, and Watson six years later – it was absolutely wonderful. And Rockwell met the real Watson Bryan on numerous occasions. By the way, he strongly protested against the fact that Sam was in the frame in Bermuda shorts, but in all the photographs of those times, the real Watson was in Bermuda shorts, so Eastwood did not change this.

I didn’t like the actress Olivia Wilde anywhere. That’s just perfect. But here, in the role of a tear-off journalist, I liked it extremely, she really played very well.

Well, my favorite actress Nina Arianda played the role of Watson’s Russian secretary here. Nina was born in New York, she is an American of Ukrainian origin, she masterfully imitates a Russian accent. And she’s really awesome! With a Russian accent, without a Russian accent – she’s always great!

This is a wonderful film, very iconic. He shows what can happen to a small person and how a small person can fight the state. It has very precise accents, it is beautifully staged, and it has absolutely amazing acting work, and above all – Paul Walter Houser, it’s just some kind of masterpiece!

This movie is a must see, I think it’s absolutely amazing!

Yes, of course, at the box office, the film completely failed. He didn’t even raise the budget. Some fat man was accused of something there, and he will deny it – and so on for more than two hours? What anguish!

But for me, this is one of the most iconic films of 2019. Well, it just sort of happened.

PS Well, here are the photos of the prototypes with the actors.

Richard Jewell and Paul Walter Houser.

Richard Jewell movie meaning

Producer: Clint Eastwood


Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, Nina Arianda, Ian Gomez, Wayne Duvall, Dylan Kassman, Mike Pniewski

Budget: $45 million, Global gross: $44 million,

Drama, USA, 2019, 131 min.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top