MANHUNT: DEADLY GAMES' Cameron Britton on the Importance of Telling Richard Jewell's Story - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

MANHUNT: DEADLY GAMES’ Cameron Britton on the Importance of Telling Richard Jewell’s Story

September 21, 2020 by  


“Centbom” — The most complex FBI manhunt on U.S. soil begins following the deadly terrorist attack at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, on the broadcast premiere of MANHUNT: DEADLY GAMES, Monday, Sept. 21 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Cameron Britton, Jack Huston, Gethin Anthony, Carla Gugino, Arliss Howard, Kelly Jenrette and Judith Light star. The story of wrongly accused Richard Jewell and the search for serial bomber Eric Rudolph comes from Lionsgate and Spectrum Originals. Pictured: Cameron Britton as Richard Jewell. Photo: Lewis Jacobs/Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.

In July 1996, security guard Richard Jewell discovered a bomb at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park during the Summer Olympic Games. His quick action, as he alerted other members of law enforcment, helped prevent a bigger tragedy when the device exploded, killing one person (with another suffering a fatal heart attack) and injuring hundreds.

But things took a turn when Jewell himself was falsely accused of being the one to actually set the bomb. In MANHUNT: DEADLY GAMES, debuting Monday, September 21 on CBS, the fallout of is explored. (The series previously ran earlier this year on Spectrum Originals.)

Here, Cameron Britton (an Emmy nominee for MINDHUNTER) shares the importance of telling Jewell’s story…

Viewers only get the briefest glimpse of Richard before the bombing happens and his life drastically changes. In your mind, who was he before that event?
The way I saw Richard Jewell before the bombing is someone who is really, really eager to find their place in life. To feel confident through success in law enforcement. And he wants that so that he can make his mother proud, and he can make himself proud. I think that Richard Jewell was full of pain and doubt in himself; he tried to ignore that as best as possible, and do what’s right and work and be as committed as you can to your job—in this case as a police officer. I guess it would sort of be like Dwight Schrute in THE OFFICE: Ultra committed to what you love to do. That’s where we find Richard Jewell. And I think that his awkwardness, because of his doubt in himself and his incredible commitment to law enforcement, sadly is what led to him being the main suspect—it just seemed to fit the profile of the bomber.

When you’re playing a real person, what is your research balance like? Did you seek out real footage and pieces on him or were you more dependent on the script itself?
My balance was the important parts of Richard I didn’t want to lose. This man had a lot of determination and respect for law enforcement. He wants to do what’s right, but he also respects law enforcement so much that at times he can’t see them as just people that make mistakes as well. I wanted to show his doubt in himself in the beginning, and I wanted to show his confidence in himself when he finds himself at the end of all of this mess. After that, I don’t really have a way to measure how much is based on the actual person themselves. It’s more or less based off of instinct and what is right for you to express. I find it interesting to let the audience decide all of that. For me, I just focused on playing his story honestly.

Richard’s relationship with his mother is one of the most important elements in his life. How did you and Judith Light develop how you wanted to portray the dynamic between Richard and Bobi?
That was luck. It always seems to be that way. Judith and I met at the table read. I came in, completely off script, because I have theater background. She came in the same, because she does, as well. She actually went and bought an $8 wig from a department store [for the read].

We sat next to each other at the table read, and I look over and she’s crying, and I get up, grab a tissue and give it to her, because she’s my mom now. There was just sort of an instant acknowledgement from each other that we’re both going to commit and be present for this, and give it our best shot. And what ended up happening wasn’t something I expected, but I kind of think of Judith Light as a mom now. She just had a way on and off set of taking care of me, being there for me. It was a hard shoot for me, so she would be there and be a loving presence. It grew to just being so excited whenever we have a scene together. And our last scene in the apartment was sad. We were going to miss our place. I hadn’t really done that before as an actor, I hadn’t been a character who lives in the home with a family.

On a production note, it felt like filming the bombing itself was likely a Herculean ordeal in terms of scope and coordination. What was the experience like for you?
Filming of the bombing will be in my memory for the rest of my life, because all of it took two weeks with 300 extras and multiple angles of explosions, [plus] people screaming and absolute mayhem. And we would shoot until sun-up. It was as close as I ever want to be to a real bombing.

It really, really brought home events that happened when I was 10. It brought them to life in a pretty major way. I wouldn’t pretend to know what it felt like to be there on that day, but I have a lot of respect for Richard Jewell and law enforcement folks who handled that situation. They knew there was a bomb and they knew people were in danger. And they used their own bodies as shields. And some of them were getting paid minimum wage, like Richard. If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is.

A film take on Richard’s life came out late last year. After spending so much time in this world, did you seek it out?
Well, Paul Walter Hauser, who plays Jewell in Clint Eastwood’s version is a friend of mine. We actually met maybe five years ago, we were doing a 50-seat theater version of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, and we played the same part; every other weekend, we’d switch off. So when he got Jewell and I got Jewell, we’d call each other now or then, or text each other, see how the project was going. We were having a bit of a hard time, because it’s such heavy material. It was great seeing Paul do the work he did. Honestly, if I did anything near what he did, then I’ve done my job. [Laughs.] It was very strange to watch someone in that same uniform and outfit that I wore. It was bizarre to say the least. But I’m glad the story is out there.

On that note, what does the show’s second life on CBS mean to you?
It’s simply exciting and makes the work we put in to the project feel validated, because the whole point of doing something like this is to get the word out there. And to me that word is a hero can be anyone, you can look like anyone. You don’t have to be gorgeous or a genius. You just have to be brave enough to head towards adversity.

I think it’s really important to remember the media and law enforcement often are self-serving. Richard was law enforcement, and didn’t realize it until he sitting in interrogation room with men and women he looked up to, who are actually there to pin a mass murder on him. We assume that the folks in the media and law enforcement are taking the oath that they swear in rising above the common citizen, and in doing what’s right over what’s self-serving. Unfortunately, that’s not the case every time. And while, a lot of the times, these folks are doing what’s right, sometimes they’re doing what’s selfish. And you need to pay attention to which kind you’re looking at. And I hope that some folks are cognizant of that after watching this story.

MANHUNT: DEADLY GAMES, Season Premiere, Monday, September 21, 10/9c, CBS


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