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

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

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.