Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” was expectedly a major highlight of this year’s Toronto — with the story of Olympic Wresting champion Mark Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and how paranoid schizophrenic John Du Pont (Steve Carell) killed Schultz’s brother, Olympic champ Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum) further supplanting itself as clearly one of the year’s best and an Oscar contender to be reckoned with.
The film’s director and cast made their way to Toronto for a press conference ahead of the film’s premiere, and here’s 10 highlights. “Foxcatcher” now heads to the New York Film Festival before hitting theaters November 14th.
Steve Carell on the true story of John du Pont
The whole thing seems to me to be a Greek tragedy. It’s painfully sad, and I really think for all the characters… There’s this cloud that looms over the story and over these characters and over their relationships throughout. And like I’ve described it before you don’t know that it’s leading to what it inevitably leads to.
Bennett Miller on homoerotic undercurrents in the film and whether or not John du Pont was a sexual predator
Predator? No. But the undercurrents of the sexuality you know of this whole venture for du Pont is something that people can speculate on looking back. I think it was a complex thing that never became explicit, but I think charged the atmosphere with certain feeling.
Mark Ruffalo on wrestlers’ devotion
As far as this film is concerned these guys were a huge influence and their particular struggles to get recognized as athletes, to qualify for the Olympics are monumental. Their commitment to what they set out to do and the very humble way they lived their lives because there was no endorsements, it’s not like today there’s no money, it was very slim pickings, a very hard life to live. All purely for a sport that for the most part has very little following other than a very committed group of fans. There’s something incredibly admirable that I found in the life these guys were living to manifest what they believed to be their highest potentiality.
Channing Tatum on playing Mark Schultz
I have the unique ability in this movie to know my character. I got to spend a good amount of time with him and also people that knew him very intimately. I think du Pont came into Mark’s life at a very interesting time, and for one of the first times shone light on him and made him feel seen and I guess loved, in a way. Brought him out of the shadow of his brother. The emotional part of Mark is I kind of describe it as… you know when you have a fever? It’s really raw and he’s constantly sort of in this excruciating negotiation with the world.
Tatum on wrestlers’ physicality
I got into that I guess just through Mark’s physicality. Wrestlers in general are super physical people and their language is movement and the way that they interact with people through contact. That was my way into Mark. Just studying the way he held his fork — he didn’t hold it like normal people, or refined people — he just grabbed it and started shovelling food into his mouth and it was just a very raw… almost animalistic, but I don’t mean ‘animal’ as simple or get-the-job-done.
Tatum on Carell’s staggering performance
I can’t pretend to know a lot about Steve and I don’t want to act like you know someone from their movies because you can’t. You can maybe get some sense about the person but I don’t want to pretend that I had some grand idea of who Steve was or that I learnt something specific. I learned that he is a tremendous person and his commitment to what he does is almost unsurpassed. I remember coming out of scenes and just being like “I don’t know how he’s staying in,” in the maze of what we were doing and just never saying “I need a minute to gather my thoughts.” It was something great for a young actor to see. Just a masterclass.
Carell on dramatic vs. comedic roles
It’s more closely aligned than you think. I approach it the same way. You look at the character first and their relationships and try to ground it. I think to me comedy is funnier where there’s some sort of tethered reality and I think the same goes for something more dramatic in nature. But I don’t think one is harder or easier than the other.
Ruffalo on Miller and the film’s “tremendous bursts of silence”
I’d like to add one bit of information about Bennett. He comes from a particular tradition of meditation that they will sit for 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 15 days in silence meditating, and that form of meditation that people I have known have done it’s very confrontational to the person sitting. I always feel the nature of this film is this meditation that is very quiet, very steady, very honest and objective and also confronting. What I know of you and what I know of this meditation method and the silence in this film… I think that’s important for people to know.
Tatum on his brotherly relationship with Ruffalo
For one, it’s very very easy to be hugged by Mark. He’s very very loveable and you just feel safe. He’s also a very fierce person when he wants to be. That also makes you feel protected. But wrestling with him for 7 months… essentially by the end of this film you create a relationship kind of like no other relationship can be without having that sort of experience together. There’s a suffering and a learning and a humbling aspect to it. Obviously Bennett held my hand all the way through this thing but I can honestly say that I would not have been able to survive this movie without Mark. It was a mountain of an experience and I’ve never had a brother but I have an older sister that takes care of me, and he’s probably the closest person I’ve ever met to match that energy.