The true-life Channing Tatum/Steve Carell drama Foxcatcher, about the wealthy scientist/philanthropist/Olympic wrestling coach/murderer John du Pont (Carell), was supposed to have been released last winter as a presumably sure-fire Oscar contender, but was postponed until November 2014. The highly anticipated film finally premieres at Cannes today, and Yahoo Movies has the first clip: Those who last saw Carell in Anchorman 2 (or ignored him in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) won’t recognize the dramatically and physically transformed actor, buried under prosthetics and adopting du Pont’s halting cadence.
Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) directed the film, which focuses on how du Pont — a descendant of the French aristocrat who founded the DuPont chemical company —recruited two-time world champion freestyle wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz (Tatum) to train at du Pont’s Foxcatcher Farm facility at his Pennsylvania estate, and, in January 1996, gunned down the athlete’s brother (played by Mark Ruffalo), also a gold-medal winning wrestler, in his own driveway.
The film looks to combine themes from Miller’s previous work, bringing together the true-crime psychology of Capote with the behind-the-scenes sports drama of Moneyball. Carell’s transformative performance falls in line with that as well, following Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning embodiment of Truman Capote in Miller’s debut drama. Take a look at how the radically altered Carell compares to the real John E. du Pont in his 1996 mug shot.
It’s also not the first time Miller has explored the dramatic side of a comedic actor. Carell’s 40-Year-Old Virgin co-star Jonah Hill earned his first Oscar nomination for his work in Moneyball. Miller told The Hollywood Reporter he wanted Carell for the role of du Pont because he was the unexpected choice. He said, “I didn’t want to hire an actor who you might presuppose was capable of murder because one thing that was repeated among many, many people who were there was that nobody believed du Pont was capable of doing what he did.”
Du Pont’s brutal act wasn’t just unbelievable; it was inexplicable. He was very close with both Schultz’s brothers, but he displayed increasingly odd and paranoid behaviors leading up to the crime. Du Pont barricaded himself in his house for two days after shooting Schultz, and was finally flushed out after police shut off the power (he was also wearing a “Team Foxcatcher” T-shirt at the time of his arrest). Du Pont pled “not guilty by reason of insanity,” but was eventually found guilty of third degree murder. Du Pont spent 13 years in prison before dying in his cell in 2010 at the age of 72.
Also starring Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, and Anthony Michael Hall, Foxcatcher will open in limited release on Nov. 14.