Richard Jewell Writer Stands by ‘Every Word and Assertion’ in the Script

Photo: Claire Folger/Warner Bros.

Richard Jewell screenwriter Billy Ray denounced the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his first comments addressing the controversy around his film. Based on a true story about a security guard accused of planting a bomb that left two dead and over 100 injured, Richard Jewell implies that one of the AJC journalists, Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde), traded sex with an FBI agent (Jon Hamm) for information. Earlier this week, lawyers representing the paper, including Marty Singer, sent a letter to Warner Bros. demanding that they add a disclaimer to the film stating that Scruggs’s reporting process was dramatized. Billy Ray, who wrote the Clint Eastwood–directed film, addressed the controversy to Deadline, claiming that the paper was attempting to distract from their own wrongdoing. “They editorialized wildly and printed assumptions as facts,” Ray said. “They compared him to noted mass murderer Wayne Williams. And this was after he had saved hundreds of lives. Now a movie comes along 23 years later, a perfect chance for the AJC to atone for what they did to Richard and to admit to their misdeeds. And what do they decide to do? They launch a distraction campaign. They deflect and distort.”

“The movie isn’t about Kathy Scruggs; it’s about the heroism and hounding of Richard Jewell, and what rushed reporting can do to an innocent man,” he added shortly after. “And by the way, I will stand by every word and assertion in the script.”

Olivia Wilde took a different stance on the controversy, writing a Twitter thread to explain her own interpretation of the events. In a statement to Variety, Warner Bros. defended the film. “Richard Jewell focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name,” they wrote. “The AJC’s claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend against them.”

Richard Jewell Writer Stands by ‘Every Word’ in the Script