“I don’t have a company. I don’t have a staff. I don’t own anything—I’ve never owned a car or an apartment. My entire life can fit into a knapsack. And the thing that I want to do in movies can’t be done every year, or every two years,” director Bennett Miller told Vulture in a great profile about his film “Foxcatcher.” “Maybe I’m wasting a lot of time, but I’m also learning. I feel like what I’m after is not easy for me to find, and to want it to be easy…it would be absurd for me to have that ambition.” And certainly, the path Miller has gone down has been one of gritty determination. Following his breakout feature debut “Capote” in 2005, it took six years for his next movie, “Moneyball,” to emerge. And that was because he was actually working laboriously on “Foxcatcher,” but had trouble getting it off the ground. Had things gone differently, we might’ve seen a completely different movie.
In the early stages of developing the true story tale about billionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) and his ultimately tragic relationship with wrestling brothers Mark and David Schultz (Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo), the director “thought of Ryan Gosling and Bill Nighy for the leads, and he also talked to Heath Ledger.” While those are fascinating options to consider, eventual lead Tatum was also in mind after the director saw him in “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” but the actor admits that, at the time, he probably wouldn’t have to been capable of playing the part.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Tatum said about first being approached for the movie. “I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know how to read scripts, I didn’t know anything about acting, and the way Bennett talked about this wildly dark character weirded me out a little bit, to be honest with you. I was super-young and I just didn’t get it. In a way, I think, thank God it didn’t come to fruition then, because I don’t know what it would have turned out to be.”
Well, what it turned out be, after a long period of focus, research and re-working by Miller (with the film taken off the release schedule last fall so he could keep working on it), is one of the most acclaimed films of the year. After making huge waves at Cannes (read our review), it is set to pop up on the fall festival circuit, including an appearance at the New York Film Festival. While the alternate history is fascinating to consider, there’s no doubt Miller’s persistence to get it right on all levels paid off.
“Foxcatcher” opens on November 14th. New EW poster below.