Eastwood on 'Richard Jewell,' criticism and finding stories

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2019 Invision

This Dec. 5, 2019 photo shows director Clint Eastwood, center, posing with cast members, from left, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Paul Walter Hauser and Sam Rockwell during a portrait session to promote their film "Richard Jewell" at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

LOS ANGELES, CA – For his film "Richard Jewell," Clint Eastwood takes aim at the media and federal investigators for what he sees as a rush to judgment after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The 89-year-old director calls security guard Richard Jewell's story "a great American tragedy," one he's been trying to tell for five years.

Eastwood's movie recounts the chaotic summer night of the bombing, which killed one woman, and the swirl of confusion that followed. Within a few days, Jewell went from being hailed as a hero, for finding the bomb and reporting it to police, to becoming a prime suspect in the attack. He was cleared of suspicion after three months, and died in 2007 at age 44.

"It's always tragic when people run off with half information and don't really have the truth set up in front of them," Eastwood said. "The press is sometimes in a hurry because there's so much competition to be the first to do something."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a central character in the film, has disputed the paper's depiction in “Richard Jewell,” saying it misrepresents their reporting on the story and their staff’s actions.

In an interview alongside his film's star, Paul Walter Hauser, Eastwood spoke with The Associated Press about his struggle to get the film made, finding success in Hollywood despite being an introvert, and criticisms of the film's accuracy.

AP: What were your biggest challenges with this?

Eastwood: Well, the challenge was that four-year period where the frustration of having the project all together right up to the last half an inch and then all of a sudden it fell apart -- and it fell apart partly on my fault, too. You negotiate and you hit a wall. Different studios owned the property. And finally I walked away. Then this last year, I said, “I wonder whatever happened to that? And I wonder if I could reinstate it?"

AP: How do you hope this film changes the public's perception of Richard Jewell?