[Spoilers ahead.] “Foxcatcher” is based on the true story of philanthropist millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) who murdered Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler. Du Pont spent years sponsoring Dave and his younger brother Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), another Olympic champion. Confirmed to have suffered from mental illness, du Pont was nonetheless found guilty of third degree murder in 1997 and was sentenced to prison. He died there four years ago.
In a recent Academy Conversation session with Indiewire’s managing editor Nigel Smith, director Bennett Miller, actors Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Vanessa Redgrave (Jean du Pont), producer Jon Kilik and writer Dan Futterman sat down and discussed how they became involved with this sad, dark and compelling story.
“It’s true of all of my films that there are characters in worlds where they do not belong,” Miller said. “But this one seemed especially compelling because it had, for me, an allegorical quality. It’s a very simple, very strange story that felt familiar. And as weird as it is, a lot of the themes running through it about wealth and class, father issues, patriotism, family, felt familiar.”
Futterman spoke about how, even before his involvement in the project, Miller dedicated “hundreds of hours” to speaking with wrestlers who had been at Foxcatcher Farm, in addition to shifting through court documents and public domain articles.
On the physical aspect of training to emulate professional wrestlers, Tatum said, “We could train for 10 years and never be the wrestlers these men were. But Mark [Ruffalo] and I wrestled for about seven months.” He added (with some humor), “You don’t do it for any other reason than it’s something that you somehow have to do in your life. And that’s all I can really say about wrestling. It’s a suffocating thing. It’s amazing. I’ll never do it again.”
“Foxcatcher” will be released in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow, November 14 by Sony Pictures Classics.
Check out the full discussion below: