About The Production
Based on true events, FOXCATCHER is a rich and moving story of brotherly love,
misguided loyalty and the emotional bankruptcy that can accompany great wealth
and power. Examining the perilous relationship between an eccentric
multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers, Academy Award nominee Bennett
Miller's fourth feature once again centers around complex characters with vivid
personalities navigating unusual circumstances. As with his previous features,
CAPOTE and MONEYBALL, large and often allegorical themes in society emerge
through Miller's meticulously imagined portraits of real people.
The mass of research collected during the years of preparation for FOXCATCHER
yielded the stark facts from which the drama would be created, transforming the
story into a wholly new incarnation. "It's fact to fiction as a vehicle back to
truth," says Miller. "Some months after CAPOTE was released I received a letter
from Harper Lee. She said the film was a demonstration of fiction as a means
towards truth. There was, as she pointed out, a great deal in the film that we
had invented, but that 'The film told the truth about Truman.' FOXCATCHER has a
Miller first heard about the story of eccentric multi-millionaire John Eleuthere
du Pont (Steve Carell) and a pair of world champion wrestler brothers, Mark
(Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) when executive producers
Michael Coleman and Tom Heller showed him a newspaper article about the story.
"The circumstances seemed comical and absurd, but the outcome was horrible and
real," says Miller. "The deeply strange things that happened on the du Pont
estate were unlike anything I had personally experienced, and yet they felt
familiar. There was something about the story - or perhaps something beneath the
story - that wasn't strange at all. In fact, the opposite."
At the heart of FOXCATCHER is a triangular dynamic between du Pont and the
Schultz brothers that Miller found compelling- enough so to commit to making it
his next film. But
while his initial impulse to take on the project was immediate, the subsequent
time and energy poured into it was expansive. "I needed to learn what hadn't
been known about the story and that takes time," says Miller. "What compelled me
was clear and convincing; I knew this was a story for me. But the process of
summoning this film took years, involving relentless research and discovery that
goes far beyond determining plot. My first undertaking was authoring and
engineering the moments and sequencing that would become the film - a process
that allowed the film to continue to reveal itself all the way through to the
last detail in post-production."
Miller traveled all over the country- to Iowa, California, Colorado, Missouri,
and Pennsylvania - amassing materials, including video footage of both du Pont
and the Schultz brothers, and interviewing dozens of people, including Mark
Schultz, Dave's widow Nancy, their friends and fellow wrestlers, people who had
worked for du Pont, police officers, and anyone who had lived any part of the
story. "This story harbors some uncomfortable truths," says Miller. "Everyone I
spoke with seemed to be guarding some aspect of what happened."
The basics of the story revealed the following: Although Dave was slightly older
than Mark, the siblings did not have a typical brotherly relationship growing
up. After their parents split up when they were young, Dave assumed a paternal
role as they moved between their parents' homes, often fending for themselves.
Over time, Mark developed a need for his brother, as wrestling partner or coach,
or for emotional support. At the same time, he was jealous of Dave's success.
His inner turbulence only escalated as the years went by. "Mark was always that
little brother that just couldn't break out or figure out how to get by on his
own," says Tatum. "He always had to rely on Dave, and this kept him from having
his own life, his own career, and the thing he wanted most-his own respect from
people." Mark's confused vulnerability made him frequently turn his pent-up
anger on himself as much as on his wrestling opponents. "I don't think anybody
could punish Mark more than he could himself and I think he hardens himself
against the world by punishing himself," says Tatum.
In the summer of 2006, Miller approached veteran producer Jon Kilik and laid out
his initial vision for the project. Kilik (THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY,
BABEL, DEAD MAN WALKING) remembered the Schultz story from news reports and
to the director's meticulous clarity of vision even in the earliest stages of
FOXCATCHER. "Bennett described the essential scenes in detail and it had instant
impact," says Kilik. "The basic conflict resonated with me from the opening -
the notion of Mark having achieved what he had, only to come home to abject
loneliness, an assistant coach's salary and barely any recognition for winning
Olympic gold - right through to the story's heartbreaking end. It was clear from
the project's inception that Bennett had the relentless drive and passion to
fulfill his singular vision. I was ready to spend time with him developing the
script and getting the movie made."
Miller developed the project with different writers over time. "I had the good
fortune of working with two extremely smart and gifted writers," says Miller.
"Though we worked separately over the course of the project, their work was
compatible and of a piece with how I envisioned the film. This is not one of
those cases where one writer undoes the work of another - both writers made
profound advances towards the same end." The story was researched and generally
outlined before it went out to screenwriter E. Max Frye (SOMETHING WILD), who
helped bring the wildly disparate facts of the story into focus. "It's not often
that a writer gets to collaborate with a director who possesses such singular
vision," says Frye. "Building a detailed, complex narrative based on character
as opposed to simply constructing a plot is what makes Bennett's approach to
storytelling so compelling. From the moment I met with him, I was impressed by
his unrelenting focus on people and what makes them do the things they do.
Throughout a long and often difficult process, he never lost sight of the story
he wanted to tell even when that story seemed to be at the top of a mountain too
high to climb. The fact that it took him eight years to make this movie is
testament to his determination and resolve and I'm proud to have played a part
Miller next turned to previous collaborator Dan Futterman - whose screenplay for
CAPOTE resulted in a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the 2006 Academy
Awards - for further development on the project. "Dan has a great analytical
mind and a divining rod for what matters in a story," says Miller. "After Max's
contribution, I was looking for a similar experience to the one we shared on
CAPOTE, where we could methodically go through every beat of the story and
challenge and evaluate every decision."
Futterman immersed himself in the
existing research, observing a wrestling tournament and conducting interviews
with Mark Schultz and Nancy
Schultz, Dave's widow. Working closely with Miller, the screenwriter produced
several revisions that, among other things, crystallized the triangular power
dynamics between the three central characters.
"In addition to his prodigious
and more obvious talents, Bennett's attention to detail is unparalleled. He
questions and pores over every moment in the script, every beat of performance,
every frame of editing," says Futterman. "FOXCATCHER is his film - the story
he's been wanting to tell for the last eight years. I've been blessed to have
Bennett bring to onscreen life two screenplays I've written or co-written -
CAPOTE and now FOXCATCHER."
While waiting on financing for the film to come through, Miller was able to cast
his three primary actors long before FOXCATCHER began production. This allowed
Tatum, Ruffalo and Carell sufficient time to immerse themselves in the lives of
the real people they would be playing - a process they took very seriously. "You
have a responsibility playing a real person and I wanted to honor Dave to the
best of my abilities," says Ruffalo. "The only way I knew how to do that was to
go out in the world and find out as much as I could about him. There's no small
amount of reportage involved in the job -you're like a detective in a way."
Ruffalo became very close to Dave's wife Nancy and other people who knew him
well, including John Giura, Dave's coach and one of his best friends, who was
later hired as a wrestling and training coordinator on the film.
Neither Tatum nor Ruffalo were skilled wrestlers when they signed on to play
Mark and Dave Schultz. Both had to learn the brothers' signature stances, moves
and styles, which were well known by Giura and heavily documented on video. The
actors began training separately with wrestling choreographer Jesse Jantzen in
June 2012 and then trained together during regular workouts when shooting began
in in October. Even though Ruffalo had done some wrestling in high school, it
proved a liability, since Dave Schultz was left-handed; as a 45-year-old man, he
had to unlearn everything he knew as well as make himself convincing as a
33-year-old man considered by many to be the greatest wrestler ever. The
training sessions were grueling and often continued into the night after long
days of filming outside Pittsburgh. "I challenge anyone who thinks their sport
is harder to come and try it," says Tatum. "This has been the most painful movie
I have ever done. I never want to wrestle again."
The intricate physical and emotional dynamic between the Schultzes is vividly
illustrated in one of FOXCATCHER's most memorable scenes, an early practice
maneuver that turns into unexpected violence. It begins like a dance, with Dave
effortlessly ushering Mark through some moves, lightly correcting and
instructing his younger brother. "There is real tenderness between them and so
much unspoken communication," says Ruffalo. "It's as intimate as two men can be
without being lovers." Gradually Mark's complicated feelings about Dave spill
out and compel him to amp up the aggression and inflict harm on the brother he
"Mark is so much bigger, stronger and more aggressive - you can see he
is exceptionally gifted on the mat," says Miller. "But Dave still has the
psychological edge on him." Adds Miller: "In this scene, you see Dave's
steadfastness, his fairness and his love, but you simultaneously see his status.
He's the Alpha. Not an uncaring, unsympathetic, unloving Alpha, but an Alpha."
To prepare for this crucial scene - the only time Tatum and Ruffalo wrestle
together in the film - the actors worked separately and in tandem with wrestling
coordinator John Giura, an Olympic-caliber wrestler in his own right who
actually lived on the du Pont estate as part of Team Foxcatcher at the time of
Dave's murder. "Every move in that scene was choreographed," says Giura. "For
them to do it without hurting each other was tricky and it would get to the
point where they became frustrated. You can see this in the film. But it was
amazing to witness both actors overcome their frustrations on camera. A wrestler
who has trained for ten years and has 100 matches behind him can get by on
instinct alone. But an actor who has been training for four months simply
doesn't have that in his DNA. He has to constantly think about what he is doing.
The work that Channing and Mark put into their training really shows on screen."
The brothers' complicated relationship, epitomized in the dance-like practice
scene, comes to a boil with Mark's realization that Dave was beginning to move
on with his life, to pursue his own family and career beyond his Olympic glory.
"There's a deep connection between them - what some people might call a
codependency, which became unhealthy as they moved into the world," says Ruffalo.
"As Dave embarked on his adult life, Mark saw it as a betrayal. It became an
impossible situation because Dave knew that Mark didn't have anything at all in
his life besides wrestling and their relationship."
It's at this time - when Mark is at his lowest ebb - that John du Pont invites
him for a life-changing meeting at Foxcatcher Farm, showering him with words of
praise and respect he had long sought from a paternal figure. "Mark had a lot of
trepidations and issues with trust but here was somebody who saw him and his
brother in a way he felt they deserved," says Tatum. "Du Pont called the
Schultzes heroes who fought for their country. He made Mark believe that no one
would support him or care about him like he did. Mark began to see that this was
the best opportunity he had ever been given. Finally he could get the attention,
respect and accolades he always wanted - and he could separate himself from
Du Pont himself was burdened by a family legacy that was nearly impossible to
uphold because it went back so many generations, culminating in a cold,
unaffectionate mother who lavished her attention on her prized horses.
"Wrestling became very important to John because it was a vocation of his own
choosing and it didn't apply to other parts of his upbringing," says Carell.
"His mother was not a fan of the sport and thought it barbaric. He stepped out
from her shadow in that way." Du Pont had tried to make his mark on the world in
numerous ways: as ornithologist, conchologist, philatelist, philanthropist,
trainee for the Olympic pentathlon, and benefactor to sports of all kinds.
Instead he became the savior of the U.S. Olympic wrestling community, building
the Foxcatcher training facility and becoming the leading funder of the sport.
"He was highly competitive and yearned for respect," says Carell. "I think he
wanted people to look up to him in the way they looked up to Dave Schultz. He
wanted to be one of the guys yet still be held in a somewhat higher regard than
others. Ultimately he was unable to earn that kind of esteem and admiration."
Steve Carell's fans will be surprised to see him in a role as dark and
challenging as John du Pont, a man of immense wealth and power whose downward
spiral culminates in murder and imprisonment. Miller knew from the outset that
the actor could play awkward, eccentric, and even violent. He also knew that it
was useless to try and cast a conventional or expected actor in the role of a
character whose nature was so unexpected. "Nobody believed what du Pont was
capable of," says Miller. "But when I met Carell I realized how many layers
there are to him - he is one of those actors with a public self and a private
self. And you never see the private self, ever. I thought those protected,
guarded areas might help him to relate to this character in some
Carell himself found the transformation challenging but is reluctant to
pass any easy judgment on du Pont. "I don't see him as a monster," he says.
"He's someone who was suffering from mental illness and did something terrible.
He was a very sad, damaged human being."
To prepare for the exacting role, Carell studied du Pont's physical demeanor and
speaking manner by watching hours of the Team Foxcatcher video footage Miller
provided his cast. "I listened to his cadence - not only how he spoke
physically, but the actual words he chose to express himself," says Carell.
"Bennett would sometimes have us improvise, so I allowed room for that. But
there were certain affectations that were specific to him which I thought were
important and lead with."
His fellow actors were unprepared for the total transformation Carell brought
when he arrived on set, already in character. "When Steve first walked out as du
Pont, it gave me a shiver," says Ruffalo. "In the thousands of hours of video
footage I watched to prepare myself, two hundred of them included Dave
interacting with du Pont in a coaching capacity. So I became very intimate with
that man - who he was, how he sounded, how he moved. Steve's ability to capture
the physical qualities of du Pont was creepy and uncanny."
Some found Carell's
demeanor to be deeply disturbing. "It was uncomfortable to be around Steve as
John du Pont," says Nancy Schultz, Dave's widow, and a frequent presence on set
during filming. "He stayed in character most of the time and it was very
unsettling to catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye."
One of the world's greatest actors, Vanessa Redgrave joined the cast as John du
Pont's formidable mother Jean. Miller was impressed by Redgrave's willingness to
improvise but takes no credit for shaping her work in any way. "Working with
Vanessa was more about watching it happen," says Miller. "I really didn't do
much. We had different versions of a scene written and I asked her if she was
okay winging it, and she was. She just went out on a tear, giving this long
monologue of stuff that wasn't written." Both Carell and Redgrave were delighted
to work together on what was for both actors very challenging material. "Vanessa
improvised a lot, but in every take she embodied the formidable strength of her
character," says Carell. "Interestingly, Jean du Pont was physically very frail,
but Vanessa helped bring enormous strength and power to
her relationship with my character."
Adds Redgrave: "Steve was super to work
with because his concentration is total. I really enjoyed my scenes with him."
When it came time to cast the Foxcatcher team and other wrestlers in the film,
the production needed to secure the support of the U.S. wrestling community - a
notoriously close-knit group for whom there was some trepidation regarding the
film's tone, considering the tabloid nature of the story. Some wrestlers had no
compunctions about informing Ruffalo that he was hardly their ideal casting for
Dave Schultz. Ruffalo attended the first big audition, which included some of
the leading wrestlers in the country as well as some of Dave's close friends. "I
was just there to say hello but Bennett had me suit up and wrestle with the
guys," says Ruffalo, "This was actually an audition for me to win them over- I
knew I couldn't blow it." With the pressure already on, Ruffalo's first opponent
was a noted Olympic wrestler. "Dave used to start strong, so I threw one of his
signature moves, one of the more showy ones," says Ruffalo. "And I looked up and
Tadaaki Happa - one of the great Olympic wrestling coaches - gave me a nod of
respect." Ruffalo's "audition" was a turning point for the wrestling community's
support of the movie. "After that, it was 'whatever you guys want, whatever you
need, we're here - we believe in this project," says Ruffalo. "I feel like I got
the blessing of the people I needed to please and it meant a lot to me."
Channing Tatum was the only one of the three lead actors who had to perform in
front of the real-life person he was playing, as Mark Schultz - now a wrestling
coach based in Oregon - became a welcome and often indispensible presence on set
during filming. "Having him there was unbelievably helpful at times in terms of
the information he was able to provide," says Tatum. "But it was also confusing
trying to separate Mark's real-life emotions from my own as I was trying to play
him in the film. I think it was difficult for Mark to watch me work." (The real
Mark Schultz appears in a cameo in the film, in the scene where Mark weighs in
for the World Championships after dropping weight).
Sienna Miller, who plays Dave's wife Nancy, also benefited from having her
real-life character on set for easy consultation. "It was incredible to be
around her but at the same time it was surreal, because I was dressed as her,"
says Miller. "But she was very open and willing to share
her ideas, thoughts and memories - even painful ones. She was as supportive as
she could have been, but it was also nerve-wracking in a way. Because when
you're playing someone who not only existed, but is still alive, it's a huge
responsibility." Miller was particularly impressed by Nancy's fortitude on set,
especially during scenes that conjured up harrowing memories of her husband's
murder, which Nancy witnessed. "Obviously she experienced something deeply
traumatic - you can see in her eyes that she's been through things and come out
the other side stronger for them," says Miller. "I think what's beautiful about
this story and her role is that Nancy and Dave play the part of the nurturing,
familial side. They are the antithesis of the John du Pont and Mark Schultz
For as much as the actors researched their roles by either relying on video
footage or their characters' true-life counterparts, no amount of preparation
compares to the magic moment on set when improvisation takes over- something
Miller encouraged in his cast members. "It was our job to research our
characters as best we could but inevitably it became something else when we were
filming," says Carell. "There were scenes that had been rehearsed and discussed
that changed completely while we were doing them." For Tatum it was challenging
to go off-script at Miller's behest.
"Bennett would have me on set and he'd say
'Do whatever you think Mark would do'," says Tatum. "It was fun but at the same
time it was hard work - you don't know what's going to wind up in the movie, so
you have to stay extremely focused."
Anthony Michael Hall, who plays du Pont's
assistant, Jack, says of the process: "Bennett was molding the performances of
the actors - he was pushing them and at the same time freeing them up. They had
done their homework, and now, in a very deliberate and understated way, he was
getting them to bring these real people to life."
Miller was able to work with such a free approach because he had the full
backing of his producer, Megan Ellison and Annapurna Pictures. While Annapurna
has since become known for such acclaimed films as THE MASTER, ZERO DARK THIRTY,
HER, and AMERICAN HUSTLE, FOXCATCHER was in fact one of the first projects the
company took on. "Making a film like this, which is not a predetermined,
connect-the-dots, color-within-the-lines kind of project, requires a leap of
faith on the part of the producers and the actors," says Miller. "It's almost
like going into a documentary, where you don't know exactly what form it will
it's finished. The only way for the film to become what it needs to become is to
go into it with a question mark."
In the same way the cast members brought veracity to their roles as true-life
people, Miller and his crew sought to show the sport of wrestling on screen in a
way that was both authentic and visceral. "Bennett wanted to make the most
authentic wrestling movie ever because it would make everything else in the
movie ring true," says Giura, the film's wrestling coordinator, whose job was to
hire the actual wrestlers who appear alongside Tatum and Ruffalo in the fighting
sequences. "We researched every possible match from the video footage and
recreated every move from the actual matches that we showed in the movie.
Because (director of photography) Greig Fraser had captured all the right
footage during filming, we were able to put together the matches effectively
during the editing process."
Giura himself contributed a large amount of archival wrestling footage to
Miller's existing research stash, much of it culled from matches he filmed while
competing with the Schultzes around the U.S. and overseas during the 1980s -
footage he had been unable to look at for two decades due to his closeness with
both Schultz brothers. "We had a computer with a giant screen in the training
room, so we had all the footage we needed at our fingertips during filming,"
says Giura. "Both actors really appreciated this. They felt more comfortable
seeing actual people wrestling, in some cases Mark and Dave themselves. Mark
Ruffalo did a great job of teaching technique like Dave actually taught it - he
could run through it backwards and forwards effortlessly. He had to learn Dave's
whole technique inside and out. With the help of the video footage, he nailed
For Fraser's part, wrestling was a new sport, something he had never much
studied or even watched, but likened to a beautiful dance between two gifted and
talented performers. "My lack of familiarity with the sport gave me an advantage
over someone who knew it inside and out," says Fraser, who watched hours of
video footage to help create a strategy for the wrestling visuals in the movie.
"If you watch good wrestling coverage you notice that if an editor cuts too
often or too quickly you can lose perspective. So I tried to focus on a key spot
for each move. We worked closely with the coaches and then we would film the
choreography. Afterward, we'd
discuss as a team the best angles for each shot. The idea was to allow the
editors to cut the least amount as possible - to show as much of the dance as
Principal photography for FOXCATCHER began in October 2012 in and around
Pittsburgh. Several estates in the vicinity were employed to capture different
aspects of the original du Pont estate, Foxcatcher Farm, which changed hands
several times in the years since John du Pont's incarceration and death and now
serves as the campus for the Episcopal Academy preparatory school. A private
home in Newton, Pennsylvania, on 500 acres of land, including a horse farm,
provided many of the interiors and exteriors, with the exception of the dramatic
Greek-revival faĆ§ade of du Pont's sumptuous living quarters, which was filmed on
a property in Northern Virginia. "What we couldn't find around Pittsburgh was a
large exterior that stood proud in the middle of a great field, with columns and
a fortress-like structure," says Jess Gonchor, the film's production designer.
"We were able to shoot key exteriors in Virginia and mix them in with the
interiors in Pittsburgh." Adds Fraser: "We tried to keep a common thread in
terms of mood and feeling throughout the film despite multiple locations in
separate states. It was always about piecing together different places to create
a consistent visual image of the Foxcatcher estate."
For Fraser, who shot FOXCATCHER on film using a series of Panavision Millennium
XL cameras, the look and feel changed depending on the location - resulting in
the use of lenses from different eras to convey constriction and widening scope
during crucial moments of the plot. "It's a decidedly dark story but I didn't
need the visuals to be dark - I only needed them to be honest in terms of the
drama," says Fraser. "We had a story to tell visually in terms of these
characters' progressions and we achieved this for the most part through
progressions of lenses and lighting to help propel Mark's journey throughout the
story." For example, during early scenes in Mark's dank, cramped apartment atop
a garage in Wisconsin, Fraser chose lenses that faithfully recorded that image
of a man alone eating noodles in the dark. "But when he's opened into this wider
world of the du Pont estate, we chose to regress slightly in terms of the
lenses," says Fraser. "We used lenses that were 30 years old, which gave the
scenes a softer quality without resorting to filters that would degrade the
image. I wanted the viewer to see the world like Mark did when he first arrives
at the estate- through rose-colored lenses, which helped to propel that subplot
It was also crucial for Fraser to create a feeling of the world opening up when
Mark first flies over the estate by helicopter- to contrast the claustrophobia
and malaise that Mark experienced during his post-Olympics life in Wisconsin.
Camera placement also played a crucial role in creating a kind of psychological
suspense that builds as the story expands. "We wanted to widen our scope in that
regard but it's also the moment when the noose begins to tighten around Mark's
neck," says Fraser. "To further tighten that noose, we put him in wrestling
facilities with low ceilings that were lit with fluorescent lights. If you place
the camera low to the ground, it feels imposing and grand - you're more on the
level with the wrestlers. But if you put the camera up higher, as we did in key
scenes, it begins to feel claustrophobic, like the noose is tightening even
Because the film is set predominantly in the 1980s and '90s, architecture, color
and wardrobe had to convey a certain look and feel without resorting to
caricatures or cliches of the era. For Gonchor, a major challenge in creating
the FOXCATCHER interiors came from reflecting the solitary nature of both Mark
Schultz and John du Pont as they come to grapple with their complex relationship
amid the interiors of Foxcatcher Farm. "I'm interested in the notion of
character dressing, or stripping away the bare essential to convey a feeling of
loneliness," says Gonchor. "For me du Pont was a loner, this solitary figure in
his grand office. In the back of my mind it was the Oval Office and he was the
commander in chief, with nobody to command. His mother's room, in contrast, felt
like it had no personality- only pictures of her favorite things, including
horses. Mark comes to live in their lavishly appointed guest home, the opposite
of his tiny apartment in Wisconsin. Both places were mired in stillness and
loneliness. Only the trophy room on the estate was over the top, because the
mother was so proud of it."
For costume designer Kasia Maimone-Walicka, whose recent work includes Wes
Anderson's MOONRISE KINGDOM and J.C. Chandor's A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, the wardrobe
in FOXCATCHER was heavily based on her own research, including photos and video
from the era, books on the du Pont family, long talks with the wrestling
community, and extensive preparation work with Miller, with whom she previously
collaborated on CAPOTE and MONEYBALL. Giura provided her with authentic
wrestling singlets from the era, which she
duplicated in number for the Foxcatcher team. Other articles were remade based
on her research. Although technically a period piece, the costume design in
FOXCATCHER doesn't reflect some of the more garish looks of the late 1980s, the
era in which the film is predominantly set. Indeed, many of the garments are
subtle and subdued, in keeping with the quieter textures and color schemes in
the production design. "The story is strong enough that it doesn't need propping
up by costumes," says Maimone-Walicka. "My job was to find the underlying design
of the film and make the clothes fit seamlessly within the frame alongside the
other elements. Once I knew how to communicate the multiple layers of the
characters, it became easy for me to look for their skin."
The sense of stillness that looms over FOXCATCHER in everything from the
cinematography and the art direction to the performances and even the costumes
is something cast and crewmembers attribute to Miller's predilection for the
cinematic slow burn. "Bennett's movies build on you quietly, he doesn't use a
lot of moving parts," says Gonchor. "Aside from some bold statements we made
with the architecture- or when Mark walks into the Foxcatcher gym for the first
time in a burst of color- my work was supporting the acting and the script. The
tone of the story is briefly hopeful and rousing during the wrestling sequences,
but things become more lifeless and motionless as the story builds, until there
is no sign of hope. At times even the scenery even feels dead."
Adds Fraser: "We
essentially let the story create its own visuals. We wanted to be honest and
clear with the drama without getting too bogged down in making it look
Throughout the filming and later on in the editing, Miller made every effort to
distill the meanings of scenes down to their essence, emphasizing visuals
whenever necessary. Fittingly, a large portion of FOXCATCHER plays out
wordlessly. "Bennett believes that character and story are enough to carry us
through long periods of silence," says Ruffalo. "He isn't afraid to let a movie
breathe in this way." Adds Tatum: "He sees the little things. He's obsessed by
the moments in between. What most people will see when you wrestle is the big
moves - the big huge slams, the activity - but Bennett really focuses on those
quiet moments, when someone goes in his head when he's not doing the big moves."
Ruffalo likens Miller's unique filmmaking process to the metaphor of a Zen rock
garden. "You see a rock sticking out of the soil, but it's only a small
percentage of what's buried and out of sight," says Ruffalo. "The meditative
glimpse of the story you get in this film is so profound, but at the same time
you still have this sense of a much deeper, denser story underneath. He doesn't
tie it all up neatly for us. He leaves us very much in the same place that most
of the people who experienced this kind of tragedy have been left. Which is
wondering how this happened, and why it came to pass?"
Miller himself describes his process as shining a light in places that no other
medium can. "The language of movies in not simply fact-based but ideally it's
totally truthful," says Miller. "What can be exposed within moments and
communicated wordlessly is the reason why this is a film and not an article or
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