Steve Carell to be campaigned in lead for ‘Foxcatcher’

Gold Derby has learned that Steve Carell will be campaigned as Best Actor for his role as murderous millionaire John DuPont in Bennett Miller‘s “Foxcatcher.”

That decision pits him against co-star Channing Tatum who plays Mark Schultz, younger brother to David whom DuPont murdered in 1996. Mark Ruffalo, who plays David Schultz, will be positioned in the supporting category where he contended three years ago for “The Kids Are All Right.” 

The Schultz brothers were Olympic wrestlers who won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Dupont, heir to the chemical fortune, became a patron of theirs with David and his wife Nancy (Sienna Miller) coming to live on his estate. 

While the story is told from the point of view of Tatum’s character, Carell — as the mentally unstable DuPont — has the showier part. Indeed, just like Nicole Kidman in “The Hours,” who also donned a prosthetic nose, the actor could well win the lead award though he has less screen time than his co-star.

Of course, while studios counsel the academy’s acting branch as to which category to place performers, this strategy can backfire. In 2008, Kate Winslet was touted as a supporting player in “The Reader” so as not to interfere with her leading role in “Revolutionary Road.” The Screen Actors Guild allows performers to designate their categories and Winslet lost her lead bid for “Road” to Meryl Streep (“Doubt”) but won supporting for “The Reader. However, when it came to the Oscars, she was nominated in lead for “The Reader” and won. (As such, we are keeping Carell in contention for Supporting Actor as well.)

Although Carell had a movie misfire earlier this year with tepid comedy “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” he is on a role as of late, having reprised his voice work in the animated hit “Despicable Me 2” and featured in the summer sleeper “The Way, Way Back.” And come Dec. 20, he will be competing against himself at the box office as the sequel to “Anchorman” opens on the same day as “Foxcatcher.” 

Carell, who has never contended at the Oscars was a perennial also-ran at the Emmy for his role as the hapless manager of “The Office.” Beginning in 2006, he lost Best Comedy Actor six years in a row for his performance as Michael Scott.

While Miller has only made two features — “Capote” (2005) and “Moneyball” (2001) — both contended for Best Picture and each reaped two acting bids. Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for his portrayal of Truman Capote while Catherine Keener contended for her work as Harper Lee. And the comical tag team of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill earned lead and supporting noms for “Moneyball.” Dan Futterman, who was nominated for his adapted screenplay for “Capote,” worked with E. Max Frye (“Band of Brothers”) to turn Schultz’s bestselling autobiography into a film. 

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