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Paul Walter Hauser to Play Title Character in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’

“I, Tonya” and “Late Night” star Paul Walter Hauser has signed on to star as the title character alongside Sam Rockwell in Clint Eastwood’s next film, “Richard Jewell,” sources tell Variety.

The drama is based on Marie Brenner’s article in Vanity Fair chronicling the story of Jewell, a real-life security guard whose world was turned upside down after law enforcement leaked to an overzealous reporter that Jewell was a possible suspect for the pipe-bombing at Centennial Park during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

From that moment on, Jewell went from the hero who first discovered the suspicious abandoned backpack and saved hundreds of lives to one of the most hated men in America.

As law enforcement asserted Jewell planted the bomb himself and then “found” it to earn praise, the city reopened the park and attempted to calm a terrified public while the real lone wolf perpetrator remained at large. Jewell maintained his innocence throughout and was finally fully cleared by the FBI 88 days later, though his reputation was never restored and his health forever damaged. Jewell went on to become a police officer, but died of heart failure a few years later at the age of 44.

Rockwell will play the attorney who defends Jewell after he is wrongly accused.

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Jonah Hill and DiCaprio had originally been attached to star (DiCaprio was originally on board to play Rockwell’s role), but they will no longer appear in the movie, instead remaining on as producers. Billy Ray is writing the script.

Eastwood is directing and producing through his Malpaso production banner. Tim Moore, Jessica Meier, and DiCaprio’s partners Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Kevin Misher are also producing.

The pic was originally set up at Fox, but landed at Warner Bros. after the Disney-Fox merger.

Hauser first broke out in the MMA drama “Kingdom,” after which he appeared in “I, Tonya” as he played Harding’s bodyguard. Hauser also appeared in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and Mindy Kaling’s “Late Night.” He currently appears on YouTube’s streaming hit “Cobra Kai.”

Hauser is repped by CAA and Artists First.

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