The Crazy Story Behind Steve Carell’s Creepy-Looking New Movie

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 19 2014 1:38 PM

The Crazy Story Behind Steve Carell’s Creepy-Looking New Movie

1380314719
Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum in the menacing trailer for Foxcatcher

Photo byScott Garfield– ©2013 - Fair Hill, LLC. All rights reserved.

Foxcatcher, which premieres at Cannes today, has been on the radar of Oscar-watchers for some time now. It’s not hard to see why. Audience pleaser and (occasional) critical darling Channing Tatum stars as real-life Olymypic champion Mark Schultz; Bennett Miller, who got nominations from the Academy for Moneyball and Capote, is at the helm; and, most pertinently, perhaps, Steve Carell stars in an uncharacteristically dark and twisted role as John Eleuthère du Pont, the athletic sponsor who—historical, heavily foreshadowed spoiler alertkilled Schultz’s brother Dave in 1996. (For more details on the story, see below.)

Carell has gone a little bit dark before—as with his suicidal Frank in Little Miss Sunshine—but he has never crossed over quite this far into the realm of creepiness. Just take a look at the menacing eyes and modified nose—and listen to that odd voice—in the teaser trailer that was just released. (A similar teaser was briefly leaked last year, but was pulled down soon after.)

Advertisement

The Oscar buzz from last year seemed to be for naught when the film exited the race, the previous December theatrical release date pushed back to November 2014. (The supposed reason why: Miller needed more time to finish it.) But despite this setback, the film seems poised to drum up awards season excitement yet again.

And the movie looks genuinely fascinating, thanks largely to the strange true story it tells. Mark Schultz and his older brother Dave (played by Mark Ruffalo in the movie) were world champion wrestlers, each winning gold medals in the 1984 Olympics as well as numerous other awards during their careers. Du Pont, who suffered from schizophrenia, was the sponsor of the competitive Team Foxcatcher, composed of numerous athletes who trained in his suburban Pennsylvania gym. In 1996, after years of increasingly erratic behavior, du Pont shot Dave—who had been training for the Atlanta games and coaching Team Foxcatcher—dead in his driveway, and was “found guilty but mentally ill.” He was sentenced to 13 to 30 years in prison, and died at the age of 72 in 2010.

The motivation for the killing was disputed during the trial: The prosecution argued it was due to du Pont and Schultz’s deteriorating relationship; the defense claimed it was not premeditated. From the looks of the chilling teaser, which focuses primarily on du Pont, Foxcatcher might try to provide some of its own answers.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.