Kathy Bates on 'Richard Jewell,' working with Clint Eastwood

The actor talks to Peter Travers about starring in the biographical drama film "Richard Jewell."
21:05 | 02/05/20

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Transcript for Kathy Bates on 'Richard Jewell,' working with Clint Eastwood
So everybody I'm Peter Travers and this is popcorn where we tell you what's happening at the movies and there's a great movie for you see right now called Richard Jewell. It's based on a true story but my guest today Kathy Bates who you know from so many things. I can mention them but then the show would be over because these if too many credit too many awards. But she plays the title character's mother in this and she will break your heart seeks ways from Sunday. But today we're going to be having fun are we absolutely welcome to thank you the first time he'd done it. Popcorn it's yours and yeah well known group no I've lost sixty pounds and managed to keep it off the last three years so. Have been could not have to myself what pop can't pretty okay I'm Stuart got good to articulate as that day and we're smelling it and has got them aviator stopped I respect that fact. Doing this and it. So you've just got of course all the awards at you have now you have a new nomination as best supporting actress Richard Jewell remained. The best award for this movie has been the fact that Bobby Jules richards' mom who still alive. Loves the movie. What that could mean as if he didn't ally no fifth in the movie knows how magic got a Tom Brokaw. I know I I know we don't want her to be getting mad now and also you know there had been. Statues in Centennial Park and the young Billy Payne who brought the Olympics with planner and finally there's going to be a plaque with Richard's name. And what he did how he says oh well that's a good thing yeah should set that up where you should question I work. How is even if he that's it now. The Richard Jewell that's the name in the movie Clint Eastwood directed it but a true story can you tell us a little about Richard to just absolute. Lee Richard. Had been am copy for a few years and then. Resigned or was fired depending on you know how you look at it many went to become a guard at at. A cop college nearby and he got let go the the thing with Richard. That I found so tragic about this whole story is that. He was this hyper vigilant. Person ever since he was a kid. That nothing of the police didn't he loves the police it even is vacated church. He won't help people he and even in church he would run around and make sure everybody had a program. And then later on when he was a cop he carried like a 130 pound. You know battering ram but he also had beanie babies. For the kids who he might find who did in accidents. So he can give and he was just this generous simple. Humble. Kind man who wanted to help everybody and it was that vigilance. That. Helped him in his job he was hired to be a security guide for the Olympics they were calling everybody and and he was at the sound and light tower. And he'd gone off to the restroom and he came back and there was a bench there and he noticed right away there was but the only Alice pack this big. Military. Pack I mean it's just issues and very suspicious. And so he told the dvi and since I don't like that and they say now come on Richard he's in on have a bad feeling. The so they brought in the bomb guys and he described it that this that guy went underneath and looked at it many just froze and he just back Mary slowly. How and he told us funny to turn a cellphone off. And they tried to get everybody back as many people back but. Through a series of mishaps and 911 calls in not being able to get in touch with people. Eric Rudolph who actually. Planted the bomb and was not caught until like six years later. Had this phone message. You know there's going to be a bomb in Centennial Park indebtedness. And thanks to Richie galvanize out of the tower he was running up and down to doing everything we do everything that and suddenly he became his hero. You know and then for three days for three days and his mother was all got that three day that is you yeah my mom his mom he's on TV he's. That's right he's on TV history here over the day at CNN wanted to talk to them. And what turned out was there was a leak from the FBI. To Kathy Scruggs at the Atlanta journal constitution. And they decided to break the story. And overnight. A everybody turned against him in said he was the he was the guy's an excess mama. Except mama she was there for him she was they were very very close she had two miscarriages. And Richard was her only time open and both his real dad has set step dad. Banished from their lives for various reasons and so he was. Her. Childhood. Boy you know and she knows she knows how he can be overzealous yes he knows the things that he shouldn't be doing he trusts. The police so much too much that it's it cost can't. By the and they used this is what was so cruel and I remember when I started out working with Clint we were all there to meet with him and said why don't do this movie. And he said because I think it's an American tragedy. He said this is a story that people need to see. Jon Hamm was down in Atlanta and people say what are you doing down here he said oh it's about the bombings OEM that our Richard Jewell who was the bomber. They still say hill the bomb. Question how do you need because there's some suspicion that and for 88 days without any evidence. People camp out you know media the FBI suspected in even when they brought him in for his first interview they already had a cell port. Yeah we like him to death that's what they thought say yes we don't because at the public everybody's demanding. To know who did there's that. Desire to get somebody up there that he he did. Well there were millions and millions of dollars resting on this because of the Olympics. And they had to get it solved safe 199690. That's when this is happening until we weren't even and a big cellphone Peary but everything was just taking on the and don't forget we've had Waco. The federal building we had ruby ridge we had 93. Truck bomb in world trade sinners so. It was the beginning of the new normal and unfortunately of this terrorism and it's that don't yet that seesaw for we eagle obvious. Two. Stay away from a I think the real tragedy and I'm sure that this is what Bobby felt. Is that the very quality that enabled him to find that bomb his vigilance. They turned that into a liability and he and they beat him up with it. That to me confused is just the tragedy of and flew one. Amazing scene that you have among many in this is when Bobby went on national TV. Making a plea to President Clinton at the time yes few. He what's happening and do something for so yes so let's look a little bit it okay. My son use innocent. Richard is not the Olympic park bomber. He saved people's laps. Please hear me mister president. And help me. My son is a he wrote. If they do not intend to charge of mass son. Please tell us. Police tell the world. Mr. prince. Believe it clear to us. Heartbreak and there. Isn't it really is I don't know how many times you had to. We got it in the first place. That's so Clint Eastwood is being hit fresh and real whenever I've been on the sedatives. It's always let's move on how much you know people say that they do say I do they do hand you don't get hit they Pollyanna but it's gonna be quick quick break but it's not that. He takes his man and he leaves it open and it's so efficient. That he doesn't need to do more than a couple of things is this your first time with Clint Eastwood and absolutely absolutely what was that like he wasn't nervous ran Hewlett I was a nervous wreck at first and I think. We all were. But we all wanted to just and then we all wanted your best all the time you know when you're with someone like client or Mike Nichols it just. He you really and I think we also. Felt a real responsibility. To bopping. She survived of course he's still alive and Richard passed away ten years later he's 33. When this happened. And he got some money. And CNN and NBC you know us. They sit down and that the Atlanta journal constitution never accepted responsibility for it and the real FBI guy who's played wrought by Jon Hamm he went to his grave saying. This guy did it. Yeah we see that scene in the movie races I still think he had even when somebody else has confessed and channeling I know now. That's the kind of thing will. It's a movie that is pretty hard. Basically on the media and on the fence it's really saying that yes in a world where we're supposed to trust certain things we've lost it you know. That was 1996. Things are worse and now. Well and I think. It's important. Realize that they just got it wrong. And they were in such a rush to try and say. The Olympics that it really this was only the second day ethnic of the Olympics and and so that was really driving it and I don't want to paint it with two broader brush because little more than ever we need the truth from the press and more than ever we need the truth from the FBI. You know and the government we depend on those institutions. So that was very specific to this case and I hope people. Don't feel that we're just trying to malign those institutions. What does Colin do win after take he's happy with it. Well this is what I love about an aunt and I didn't realize this is that he just lets the camera keep going. And we just keep going. The scene may be done I mean airlines may be done but we just keep improvising is continuing to live. In that situation. And he gets a lot of great stuff that he can use and it's also an opportunity for us to have. More time together. You know to experience the characters together especially nowadays when you don't have rehearsal time he you have here as my friend Jessica Tandy red god rest you used to say. Your kitchen work. Nowadays you have to do your kitchen you're in your kitchen you know at home alone so it's great to have that kitchen workers did well when he was when Clinton was here last. He was saying that he hates. Movies where the director will say. She you know if you hit I'm really quiet about it I just go when their rented you when you ready just decent and I also heard about. I don't know if this is apocryphal or not was when he was doing this spaghetti westerns and they would screen action forces within an hour you know you don't want to -- an hour and also includes the you know it's just also crazy and I think that's when he. He developed a style he thought you know women everybody's just rushing in and getting it wrong and rushing in getting it wrong again and he just wanted to. Keep it real simple he says when you're ready. People are going like this an unemployment the first on adequate steamers running downstairs and I ran into the sound guys who are really liked. I was trying to speak French standings it. And I thought Clint I thought the scene was over you know and then that's when I realized yeah it's not over till it's over you know. Until he says it's yeah yet that's the I think we do about it now he also has and I just say just he has an amazing. Cameramen. Stephen Campanelli men with him for 25 years like many of the people on the crew it's like a family. And he just knows how to tell that story with a hammer in one of my favorite shots and Clint students when when the FBI are there any C. Richard putting his blue gloves on and we've been telling him telling him not to help the police. And then it pans over to Sam and I just standing there looking and I'm like. He's never gonna stuff you know and he just wants to throttling. But what every doing he's doing great fell on 89 net. You. These events still sexiest. You go saying I'm good at explaining yet he is just that he is sexy. I'm telling you. Imagine my will be like when nine. Like good wine I could walk if everybody is a perfect that it would you. You've worked with so many people know. Mike Nichols and primary colors he's somebody I missed tremendously and just you and not. Only a great director but he's just one of the smartest. Both fun people that ever lived on that sir. Now that. I agree and I remember I was at an awards thing I think it was the Emmys and and I lost you know and like about half an hour later I get this tax for mine saying. Your mom one of my favorite actors I've ever worked win. And I thought well that's it dude hang out at flake and how lovely of him to do that in that moment. It is but he's right I hope he's equally well as well as one of the high points of my life to work with him in with that cast. And yet you had. Would mean your Oscar movie misery where ideology that you and I can still hear any will sing he didn't get out of that I active duty call. You. He didn't do that and yet. To me in terms in the Stephen King. When he did Delores Claiborne like for five years later that was just as good time Tony Gilroy adapted human Novella and that Stephen Roach and I which we which the film that got more attention that year. But I don't people go watch it then again the launch it now after we're finished it's it's a great casting of Christopher Plummer Jennifer Jason Lee and Taylor hacker did an amazing job and talk about lead time that's what I'm saying he understands what actors need and because I had to play. A woman in different points of her life new I had an amazing makeup and hair and dialogue and all of so I have all the tools at my disposal and that's violent people would see some very to look at that there's so much for me it's an incredible career I remember seeing you for the first time once. Agent and eighties oh you did not yet four years old but I loved. It great thing yet it was great. So how are you feeling about your life career. I'm feeling where L. I was sick with breast cancer in 2012. Had a double mastectomy and they removed Glenn notes. And in my case the lymph fluid built up in my arms. And I did. Seeing my mother go through this but I didn't know what it was it was in your fan yep and I went to a Doctor Who helped me with Manuel went drainage in a pomp and had to go several it was deemed that cost Olympic team. Ten million Americans suffer from emphysema and that's more than analysts muscular dystrophy. En masse. Of alzheimer's and aids it's horrible parkinson's UNAIDS excuse me. And you're a spokesman for I am a spokesperson for it and it's so if you ask me how I'm doing. It's a perfect balance of my life. I've got this career that I still feel strong in and then I've got the opportunity live in the real world reports that the NIH. The CDC now has a video of me talking about when the team on their cancer web site which is something we really fought hard for. And in New York. We passed a bill so that it's mandatory for clinics and hospitals. To provide information to cancer patients. Because any time the lymph system is damaged people are at risk. And it's that happens though is it like a swelling of the yes if the limb if the lymph system backs up. The legs are the arms well. Doctors spend. In four years of medical school fifteen minutes on the entire lymphatic system. Oh what is that about ten million and they. GP. And you've got a problem he'll say well go home and eat salads. And unfortunately it's progressive. And incurable. And many people can afford to adopt a doctor's job so they go for years. Without getting help in fat. I met Sam Rockwell's. Uncle and his mom had a swollen arm and didn't know what it was. And they diagnosed if you he's she saw one of the programs that I've been able to do and she got to a doctor and got treatment and C or better do you do when it's incurable there's not much we can do except for. You go for Manuel Lim during unity in and they pursue it when there are songs it's in both my arms and here's the thing too is that. You get an infection often called cellular light as a bacterial infection that has to be treated with antibiotics. And if you don't than you could going to sepsis and occasionally people do die from. Well good for you for going out there. Yeah I was pissed that I had breast cancer and lymph edema OK and now I'm actually happy. Because. I can do something in the real world that means something that can help people when Chris Tillman that last night I was like. This is the best day of my life. You know two to understand that I really helped someone because you don't always get that feedback. I think it's very rare where that happens. Also you were able to listen and say it could be yes the goal he didn't know me he I definitely mean but you. We're introduced. And you could see the we race which it did so yes when you get died of cancer diagnosis. Do something take it at yell at that particular summer was hard because of my show Harry's law had just been canceled that was a mistake yes. And it was it that punchy and I wish that NBC had taken you know better had focused on our show more and so then. I discovered I had breast cancer and Peter I swear to you that that moment I thought my prayers. And then god bless Ryan Murphy he came along my friend Jessica Lange and he changed my life he opened my third act with a bang. Now we should come on pick in art yeah art I have to that you go but he is the first time he'd been on the show. Yes as I hope it's not the last to leave with her comeback with Bobby did all of our big grade. And you're a musician. Well way back when wealth I don't care when it YOK if you want person scenes. And KC. OK let. He did a great I can't get started with you really here yet but. I'm just not looking for a full song just a little bit of some that knows something. Except to say. They're singing some. Zoom. But not. Thirteen. And I think that's all the lingering and I remembered. I was singing waitress in the cats you know. We'll see at times when they're just not happy apple Riquelme about Ambac we're gonna begin in the cat absolutely and see what other jobs that you two our that led you to all of this protecting your delightful thing he'll be here somewhere in view I just adore you were great together we aren't as he is on the road with with. But let's make sure we have a popcorn machine. Furious about that. We could distract you could teach hopeless.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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