To tell a story of obsession and pain, director Bennett Miller and his Foxcatcher cast had to fully commit themselves to experiencing those hardships. In training to play Olympic wrestlers and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz, leading men Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo suffered the most, Miller told Yahoo Movies while speaking about the film (in theaters Nov. 14) and the exclusive new trailer above.
“These guys got some injuries, but I never really heard about it until we started talking about the film after it’d been finished,” Miller admitted. “I keep on learning about various injuries. Like Mark at one point collar ties Channing in a scene and he kind of cuts his ear. He hits the side of his head really hard and burst Channing’s eardrum. And in the same scene, Channing put his head through a mirror and cut himself.”
Carell as John du Pont; the real-life du Pont
Tatum was the first actor that Miller cast to star in Foxcatcher, which tells the story of the mentally unstable scion John du Pont (a totally transformed Steve Carell) and his ill-fated patronage of U.S. Olympic wrestlers. Du Pont became especially close with the Schultz brothers, forging a combustible relationship that began in the late 1980s and ended in du Pont’s murder of Dave Schultz in 1996. The new trailer follows du Pont’s descent into madness, as Tatum’s Mark Schultz falls further into his benefactor’s creepy clutches. We see fresh scenes that tease the brothers’ conflict, and the panic that sets in as they realize — too late — the extent of the trouble they’re in.
Tatum admitted to keeping secret the various ailments he suffered throughout the seven months of training and the grueling shoot that followed. “Look, when you’re in that kind of a movie, it doesn’t matter if you’re hurt or not,” the actor told Yahoo. “You keep moving forward. I don’t think my knees will ever be the same after that, and I still have cauliflower ear. But if I came out of the movie without it, I’d feel like I didn’t do something right.”
Now, with the film drawing raves at festivals across the world ahead of its release, Tatum is much more open about the punishing (but still cherished) experience. “It was the most suffocating sport I’d ever played,” the 34-year-old actor and former football star said. “You can box and hit the bag or something like that, but you can’t wrestle if you don’t want to actually do it. It’s a thankless, painful sport.”
Tatum and Ruffalo in ‘Foxcatcher’
Miller, an Oscar-nominated director for Capote and Moneyball, began researching and developing the project all the way back in 2006. Over the years, he said, the script, which was written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, went from a more sensational tale to an exploration of psychosis and drive.
“All of the low hanging fruit got pushed away,” he told Yahoo. “Over time, I became less and less interested in the spectacular, colorful, flagrant stuff. I became more and more interested in delving into the subtleties of who these people were, moving past the bizarreness…to the place where most people could even find some way of identifying.”
Miller’s drive to find the truth of the story also came in part out of obligation. Both the Schultz family and employees of du Pont’s cooperated with the production, giving advice and fielding questions. “They had really given themselves to the process,” Miller said. “And with that came a solemnity that the actors naturally felt, and what has been offered to them was something that they wanted to honor…. So it wasn’t a set with a lot laughs and high fives.”