When I saw I, Tonya at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of 2017, I was as blown away by Margot Robbie and Allison Janney‘s performances as most critics, but I was also greatly impressed by the performances of Sebastian Stan and another young actor who I wasn’t familiar with by the name of Paul Walter Hauser. I, Tonya was released a few months later in December, and while Janney was feted with awards, and Robbie was showered with nominations, Hauser was left criminally overshadowed by his more famous co-stars So, despite fierce competition, I decided to bestow upon him the modest honor of Up-and-Comer of the Month when that series was over at the Tracking Board. Hey, I’m not a member of any critics group or awards voting body, so it was the best I could do.
Hauser may not look like your typical Hollywood leading man but he’s leading the charge to change the industry’s perception of just what, exactly, a leading man should look like these days. And the ultimate point of Up-and-Comer of the Month is to signal to both the industry and readers who I think has what it takes to carve out a career for themselves in Hollywood, where fame is fleeting and longevity is hard to come by. It helps, of course, to work with genuine legends, and we’re pleased to report today that that’s exactly what is in Hauser’s future, as he has landed the lead in Clint Eastwood‘s fact-based drama Richard Jewell. that’s right, they’ve dropped “The Ballad of” from the original title.
Hauser was on my own list of favorites that I recently tweeted upon learning of Sam Rockwell‘s casting as Jewell’s defense attorney, as even though he’s not exactly a ‘name’ yet, I thought he’d be perfect for the role. The great thing about Eastwood is, he doesn’t require ‘names’ to get his movies made, as the filmmaker is more often than not the draw. And this time, in addition to two great actors, Eastwood is armed with another fascinating true story.
Richard Jewell follows the heroic security guard who discovered a suspicious backpack at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and quickly evacuated the area, only to see his life turned upside down when he was implicated as a possible suspect in the subsequent Olympic Park bombing. The “fake news” had real consequences, as the media turned him into an instant social pariah, though he maintained his innocence throughout the 88-day ordeal.
Jonah Hill was originally going to play Jewell back when Ezra Edelman (OJ: Made in America) was attached to direct, and DiCaprio was to have played his defense attorney. Eventually, both actors decided to simply produce alongside Eastwood. The trio will be joined by Jessica Meier, Kevin Misher, Tim Moore and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran. Billy Ray wrote the script, which is based on a Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner. Richard Jewell was originally set up at Fox, but after the studio was acquired by Disney this spring, all parties thought it best to allow the project to migrate to Eastwood’s longtime home at Warner Bros.
Besides I, Tonya, Hauser recently co-starred in Spike Lee‘s BlackKklansman, and he can currently be seen alongside Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling in Nisha Ganatra‘s delightful comedy Late Night. Lee cast him again in his next film, Da 5 Bloods, and he is also filming the indie movie Silk Road with Nick Robinson and Jason Clarke. Hauser is represented by CAA and Artists First, and the Hollywood Reporter broke the news of his casting.