Director Bennett Miller is becoming something of a serial biographer about a particular moment in the lives of incredible, infamous and unusual people. He won an Oscar nomination for his film about the defining moments in the life of writer Truman Capote during the putting together of his non-fiction work In Cold Blood in 2005′s ‘Capote‘ and most recently has re-told the story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s and his successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players in the Brad Pitt starrer ‘Moneyball’.
For this next and third feature film, Bennett will tell the infamous and shocking true story of the murder of Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler David Schultz in 1996 by his long-time friend.
The drama is titled Foxcatcher and our lead will be John du Pont, a seemingly harmless stamp-collecting, bird-watching multimillionaire and paranoid schizophrenic who built Team Foxcatcher, a wrestling facility on his 800-acre Pennsylvania estate. On January 26, 1996, he shot Shultz three times on his driveway and killed him in cold blood. He then locked himself away in his huge mansion whilst the police surrounded his estate and eventually they caught him when they turned off his power and du Pont went outside to fix the heater.
At the trial du Point said he killed Schultz because he believed he was part of an international conspiracy out to kill him. A plead of “not guilty by reason of insanity” was thrown out and the jury found him guilty of third degree murder but mentally ill and he was sentenced to prison for a minimum of 13 years to a maximum of 30, of which he served 13 years but died in prison in 2009. It’s a highly intriguing case and was a huge tragedy and for the Schultz family they were never given a definitive motive by the police for what happened.
24 Frames reports that Miller has cast Steve Carell in the role of du Pont, which is a bold move for both parties and it’s definitely going to be something to see to watch Carell play a sufferer of severe mental illness who hid it from everyone he knew for decades before one day committing a heinous crime. Just look at how du Pont looked at the trial, this is not your family friendly Carell you’ve seen in The Office and this year’s Crazy, Stupid, Love – this is the kind of bold left turn Jim Carrey should have done more of in his career.
Channing Tatum has just won the part of Schultz, which is another inspired casting choice.
Miller will be working from a screenplay co-penned by his Capote writer Dan Futterman (originally this was to be their follow-up project to that film but it couldn’t gain momentum five years ago) and will be independently financed. E. Max Pyre who wrote the 1986 Jeff Daniels/Jonathan Demme movie Something Wild and more recently the Paul Newman 2000 drama Where The Money Is is co-credited with the screenplay.
Production begins in March and a distributor won’t be found likely until they have something to show on film. I have a feeling this one will be something special.