Bennett Miller at NYFF: ‘Foxcatcher’ is a ‘funny’ story, ‘until it’s not’

Director Bennett Miller‘s Olympic-sized tragedy “Foxcatcher” follows the lives of gold-medal-winning brothers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), who find an unlikely benefactor in wealthy John du Pont (Steve Carell) before their relationship takes a tragic turn, but despite the film’s sober tone, Miller admitted at the New York Film Festival a surprising motivation for turning the true story into a feature film: “I thought it was funny.”

5 reasons why Steve Carell (‘Foxcatcher’) will win Best Actor at Oscars

Miller clarified the dark absurdity he found at the heart of the story: “One of the wealthiest men in America bringing a team of wrestlers onto his estate to train, where he would become their coach not knowing anything about wrestling. It was funny, except that the outcome was horrible … It’s the kind of thing that’s funny until it’s not.”

The dangerously eccentric John Du Pont is a rare dramatic role for Carell, who is better known for comedies like “The Office” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” but he felt he prepared for the role “in the same way” he would for a comedy, though with added makeup to help transform him for the role.

Will ‘Foxcatcher’ snare two Best Actor Oscar nominations?

The makeup was essential for Carell in developing the character. “I can’t help but think his look had an effect on the people around him, and people responded to him in part because he looked a certain way,” said Carell. “When I would arrive on set in that look, people treated me differently, and it tended to separate me from the rest of the cast. It was only during these press tours that I’ve gotten to know these guys, and they’re really fun.”

Carell ranks second in our overall Oscar odds for Best Actor, right behind Michael Keaton (“Birdman“), while the film ranks fifth for Best Picture, and Miller, who won the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is fourth in the Oscars’ directing race.

This would make three Oscar successes in a row for Bennett Miller. “Foxcatcher” is only his third feature film, but the first two (“Capote” and “Moneyball“) both contended for Best Picture.

Click the following links to see our complete stats for: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

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