Filmmakers lured to Georgia by the state’s generous tax credits love how metro Atlanta and beyond can be made to look like just about anywhere. Urban street scenes or rural farmland shots, fancy penthouses, rustic shacks, malls, cul-de-sacs, airports ... no problem.
In Clint Eastwood’s latest project, though, Atlanta plays itself.
“The Ballad of Richard Jewell” filmed overnight in Centennial Olympic Park, re-creating the festive atmosphere undone by Eric Robert Rudolph during the 1996 Olympics.
Production folks are always proactive about alerting area residents, businesses and passersby when a scene will involve simulated gunfire. For “Jewell,” they made sure folks knew the emergency vehicles scheduled to respond to loud noises in the park were part of the movie.
The film stars Paul Walter Hauser in the title role, along with Jon Hamm, Kathy Bates, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. Eastwood directs.
We had no access but director James Gunn did:
That’s “Kenny Rogers” on stage behind them, by the way. The filming we watched before it started pouring involved musical performances of the era.
“The Ballad of Richard Jewell” is based on a Vanity Fair article and upcoming book about the man who alerted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to a backpack containing a pipe bomb the night of July 27, 1996. Jewell’s quick action meant hundreds of people were able to get away before the device exploded, killing one woman and injuring more than 100 others.
Federal and state law enforcement focused on Jewell as a suspect in the days after the bombing. The Justice Department released a statement clearing Jewell — and Rudolph, serving multiple life sentences, ultimately confessed.
Several media companies were sued for reporting that Jewell was a suspect. In 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld a previous court ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed against The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jewell died in 2007 at age 44 from a heart attack brought on by heart disease and diabetes.
The movie uses the code name “Kiki” and it was scheduled to conclude its Centennial Olympic Park filming segment overnight.
Here are a few photos of the set. Notice the Olympic banners:
These folks are extras portraying people in the park the night of the bombing:
You can tell it’s a concert scene from the 1990s. People are watching the stage with their eyes instead of through their phones:
Giovanni Di Palma of Gio's Chicken Amalfitano and Antico Pizza Napoletana hosted a gathering for cast members as filming began:
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