Is JR Maguire based on a real writer? The Tender Bar character explored

Eve Edwards

As The Tender Bar gets its release on Amazon Prime, some viewers are curious to know more about the character JR Maguire.

Director George Clooney tackles the story of JR Maguire (Tye Sheridan), a writer who finds solace at his local watering hole. The story explores the characters JR meets at the bar, particularly his relationship with Charlie (Ben Affleck).

But is JR Maguire based on a real person? We explore the inspiration behind The Tender Bar’s protagonist as the film gets its release this January 2022.

The Tender Bar | Official Trailer | Prime Video

The Tender Bar | Official Trailer | Prime Video

Is JR Maguire a real writer?

Although JR Maguire is not a real writer himself, the character in the film is based on real novelist and journalist JR Moehringer. The Tender Bar is an adaptation of Moehringer’s 2005 memoir of the same name.

So, while they don’t share the same surname, the character is based on a real writer.

JR Moehringer was born on 7 December 1964, making him currently 57 years old. After graduating from Yale University in 1986, he embarked on a career in journalism. Moehringer started with The New York Times, but found major success later working for the Los Angeles Times. In 2000, JR Moehringer won the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing.

After the success of his own memoir, Moehringer was recruited to help write the stories of other famous faces. Moehringer co-authored Open: An Autobiography with retired tennis star Andre Agassi. He also ghostwrote Phil Knight’s memoir Shoe Dog. Moehringer has been chosen by Prince Harry to co-write his autobiography, which is due to be published later this year.

What inspiration does The Tender Bar take from JR Moehringer?

Moehringer’s memoir The Tender Bar tells the story of his childhood growing up in Long Island, New York in the 1970s and ’80s. He revisits his childhood years as well as his early adulthood which was largely spent at a local bar called Dickens.

The memoir introduces readers, and now audiences, to the characters Moehringer met at this bar.

In the film adaptation, director George Clooney and scriptwriter William Monahan focus particularly on Moehringer’s real uncle Charlie, who was the bartender at Dickens.

Los Angeles Premiere Of Amazon Studio's "The Tender Bar" - Red Carpet
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

JR Moehringer himself appeared at the premiere for The Tender Bar back in December 2021.

It is unconfirmed why they changed his name for the film. He is referenced as JR Maguire by the New York Times and in the film’s official synopsis.