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Foxcatcher: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller

Steve Carell
Born: August 16, 1962
Concord, Massachusetts, USA
John du Pont
Born: November 22, 1938
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Death: December 9, 2010, State Correctional Institution, Somerset, Pennsylvania, USA (natural causes)
Channing Tatum
Born: April 26, 1980
Cullman, Alabama, USA
Mark Schultz
Born: October 26, 1960
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, USA
Mark Ruffalo
Born: November 22, 1967
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
David Schultz
Born: June 6, 1959
Birthplace: Palo Alto, California, USA
Death: January 26, 1996, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA (murdered by John du Pont)
Sienna Miller
Born: December 28, 1981
New York City, New York, USA
Nancy Schultz
Born: June 5, 1959
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Vanessa Redgrave
Born: January 30, 1937
Greenwich, London, England, UK
Jean du Pont
Born: 1897
Birthplace: Pennsylvania, USA
Death: August 9, 1988, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA
Looking back, I should have trusted my gut and never let [John du Pont] into my life — or, indeed, the life of my brother a few years later. Everything about him was weird, from the dyed red Ronald McDonald hair with layers of dandruff in the roots to his dark yellow teeth, caked with food. -Mark Schultz, November 2014, NY Post

Questioning the Story:

Why did Mark Schultz decide to go to Foxcatcher?

The real Mark Schultz says that when he wrestled there was little money in the sport. Even those at the top often struggled financially, as there was little or no help from USA Wrestling. "That's why I went to Foxcatcher," says Mark. John du Pont was actually paying people to wrestle (No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman). Prior to accepting John du Pont's invitation, Mark had been fired from his assistant coaching position at Stanford. He went to Foxcatcher Farm in 1986 and left in 1988, no longer able to take the stifling atmosphere created by the "entitled egomaniac" John du Pont (NY Post).

Unlike the movie, Mark doesn't credit du Pont as being his savior, just a strange man offering him a coaching job. He says that du Pont wanted him to be his assistant coach at Villanova University. "I didn't move to Pennsylvania to wrestle for Foxcatcher," says Mark. "I took an assistant coaching job at Villanova" (Mark Schultz Facebook Page). The movie instead finds Mark going to Foxcatcher after du Pont convinces him to be part of his plan for wrestling domination. In real life, du Pont had first contacted Mark's brother Dave, who in turn recommended Mark.

The real Mark Schultz (front) in 1984 and actor Channing Tatum in the Foxcatcher movie.

Did Mark Schultz live at Foxcatcher immediately after his meeting with John du Pont?

No. The real Mark Schultz didn't actually move onto Foxcatcher Farm until after John du Pont fired him from his assistant coaching position at Villanova. Mark had thrown a party at his apartment where alcohol and underage wrestlers were present. Du Pont told Mark that he could remain a part of Foxcatcher if he moved onto the farm to train. -Foxcatcher Autobiography

Why was John du Pont's land called "Foxcatcher Farm"?

The Foxcatcher true story revealed that in 1988, following the death of his mother, Jean Liseter Austin du Pont (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave in the movie), John changed the name from Liseter Hall Farm to Foxcatcher Farm. He did so as a tribute to his father, William du Pont, Jr., who had used the name Foxcatcher for his racing stable in the 1920s. Watch the 1988 John du Pont interview for a closer look at Foxcatcher Farm.

John du Pont's mother and father had originally received the land as a wedding gift from his maternal grandfather, William Liseter Austin, an executive of the Baldwin Locomotive Works. His paternal grandfather, William du Pont, had a replica of James Madison's Virginia house, Montpelier, built for them. -The Delaware County Daily Times

How long did the Schultzes live on John du Pont's Foxcatcher estate?

The real David Schultz and his family had lived on Millionaire John du Pont's Foxcatcher Farm in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania for about six years, from 1989 to early 1996. The movie changes the time frame to the 1980s, putting Dave and his brother Mark at Foxcatcher at the same time. Dave was recruited by du Pont to work as a wrestling coach and train as a member of a U.S. wrestling team that had its sights set on the 1996 Olympics. The journey ended on January 26, 1996 when John du Pont murdered David Schultz.

The real Dave and Mark Schultz celebrate their 1984 Olympic gold medal wins (left). Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum recreate the moment for the Foxcatcher movie.

Were Mark and his brother Dave at Foxcatcher Farm at the same time?

No. In researching the Foxcatcher true story, we learned that in real life, Mark Schultz left Foxcatcher Farm in 1988 and his brother Dave didn't arrive until 1989. The movie overlaps their stays to condense the story into a period of time from 1984 to 1988. -NY Post

Did John du Pont sexually abuse Mark and other wrestlers?

Even though it is only implied in the movie, Mark Schultz explains in his book that du Pont created a wrestling move called the "Foxcatcher Five," where one wrestler would grab another wrestler's testicles with five fingers. Du Pont, who had also provided the funds for Villanova University to build an athletic arena and start a wrestling program in 1986, was let go two years later after facing charges of sexual abuse and other indiscretions. The program was dropped. One of those charges came from another Villanova coach, who said that he was fired because he had refused du Pont's homosexual advances. -Philadelphia Daily News

Was there a sexual relationship between Mark Schultz and John du Pont?

No. At least one scene in the Foxcatcher movie suggests that a sexual relationship might have existed between Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and his eccentric benefactor John du Pont (Steve Carell). After discovering that some critics were indeed interpreting the scene this way, the real Mark Schultz slammed the movie and its director. "Leaving the audience with a feeling that somehow there could have been a sexual relationship between du Pont and I is a sickening and insulting lie," Mark Schultz said via a December 2014 Facebook post. "I told Bennett Miller to cut that scene out and he said it was to give the audience the feeling that du Pont was encroaching on your privacy and personal space. I wasn't explicit so I didn't have a problem with it. Then after reading 3 or 4 reviews interpreting it sexually, and jeopardizing my legacy, they need to have a press conference to clear the air, or I will."

Schultz did not hold back in making his feelings known about the director either, "I hate Bennett Miller," Schultz posted on Twitter in all caps. "I hate everything that scum touches. Everything!!!"

Did the du Pont family object to the making of the Foxcatcher movie?

"No. No," said director Bennett Miller during a Q&A session at the New York Film Festival. "There's nothing insidious. There's no real attempt to block or stop us. I did encounter a few du Ponts who were generous, but at no point did anybody overstep. I think we were very clearly within the boundaries of what we were legally entitled to do, and no."

How did John du Pont become so wealthy?

John du Pont inherited his fortune, once estimated at approximately $200 million, from the family's chemical business. His great-great grandfather, E. I. du Pont, created a gunpowder business in 1802. That evolved into one of the world's most successful chemical companies, which is credited with creating modern staples like nylon, rayon and Neoprene.

The real John du Pont (right) was at one point worth an estimated $200 million. Steve Carell (left) dons a slightly smaller prosthetic nose to look like du Pont for the Foxcatcher movie.

Was Anthony Michael Hall's character Jack based on a real person?

No. "I believe it was a fictionalized character," says Anthony Michael Hall. "I don't know that he was a real guy." -New York Film Festival Q&A

Did Mark dye his hair?

No. "I never dyed my hair," Mark said in a Facebook post.

Did John du Pont really drive a tank around his property?

Yes. According to the Foxcatcher true story, his tank was just one example of his somewhat odd behavior. He also sent wrestlers into his attics to look for ghosts, and he once used dynamite to destroy a den of fox cubs. -NY Daily News

Did Mark Schultz and John du Pont really do cocaine together?

Yes. In the movie, John du Pont (Steve Carell) convinces Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to try cocaine while they are on a helicopter ride to a banquet where Schultz is to give a speech that praises du Pont. In real life, Mark Schultz claims that John du Pont initially had asked him where he could buy some cocaine. Schultz admits that they did do cocaine together on two or three occasions.

He also says that du Pont did make him speak at a banquet, but he tried to keep the focus on himself and not say anything good about du Pont (Foxcatcher Autobiography). "I never read any speech he gave me," Mark said in a Facebook post, pointing out one of the movie's inaccuracies.

Did Mark coach John du Pont in a wrestling match?

No. "I never showed him any moves or taught him anything about wrestling," says Mark. "I never coached him in a wrestling match." -Mark Schultz Facebook Page

Did Mark Schultz lose at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul?

Yes. Mark took sixth place at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. "I quit wrestling after losing in the 1988 Olympics and left [Foxcatcher Farm]," Mark stated in a Facebook post.

Were there signs that John du Pont was dangerous?

Yes. John du Pont's own 1983 marriage dissolved after just 90 days when his wife realized that she was going to end up dead if she didn't leave. Du Pont had tried to stab and strangle her, push her into a fireplace, and shove her out of a moving car. Those who knew him realized that he could snap at any moment. Alcohol and drugs didn't help the matter and only fueled his delusions, which included believing that his horses were sending him messages from Mars. (NY Daily News). 1996 Olympic champion Kurt Angle, a friend and pupil of Dave Schultz, says the he and the other wrestlers at Foxcatcher should have better realized how dangerous John du Pont was, given his behavior and the fact that he carried a gun everywhere.

Did David Schultz's wife Nancy really witness his murder?

Yes. Nancy ran to the door and saw the third shot and David crawling toward the porch area of the house. The real Nancy Schultz even visited the Foxcatcher movie set to show her onscreen counterpart, actress Sienna Miller, exactly how the murder unfolded in front of the du Pont estate guesthouse. The Shultzes had called the guesthouse home for six years. The 911 call that Miller places in the movie was taken verbatim from Nancy's real-life 911 call (music was later layered over the scene, which shows an inaudible Miller screaming into the phone). Nancy's children were also present for their father's murder. Like in the movie, Nancy turned her husband over and cradled him in her arms as he passed away (NY Daily News). "I said, 'I love you,'" revealed Nancy, "and maybe he could carry those [words] with him." (1996 Dave Schultz NBC Olympic Tribute)

The real Nancy Schultz and husband Dave Schultz in the 1980s (left) and at Disney with their children circa 1993 (right).

Did John du Pont really point his gun at Nancy Schultz?

Yes. After witnessing John du Pont shoot her husband the third and final time (in the back), he then leveled his handgun at Nancy before driving off.

Why did John du Pont really shoot wrestler Dave Schultz?

The movie falsely implies that Mark Schultz leaving Foxcatcher and ending his association with du Pont had something to do with du Pont's anger toward Mark's brother Dave. In reality, Mark had been gone from Foxcatcher for more than six years at the time of Dave's murder. 36-year-old Dave Schultz had been coaching other wrestlers at Foxcatcher, in addition to training for his final attempt at gold in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. He, not Mark, was the closest thing John du Pont had to a friend. Du Pont grew upset when Schultz announced that he was leaving Foxcatcher after the Olympics to accept a coaching job at Stanford. -NY Daily News

The real Dave Schultz (right) announced that he was going to leave Foxcatcher Farm following the Olympics to accept a coaching job at Stanford. Mark Ruffalo (left) portrays Dave Schultz in the movie.

How did Mark Schultz learn that his brother Dave had been murdered by John du Pont?

"In 1996, I was the head coach at Brigham Young University," says Mark Schultz, "and I got a call from my dad. He said my brother had been murdered by du Pont, and it just infuriated me to just no end, and I think I destroyed everything in my office, and went home, turned on CNN, and watched the standoff between du Pont and the police surrounding his mansion." -No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman

Did the police really freeze out John du Pont to get him to come out of his home?

Yes. Though it's not clear in the movie, the police turned off the boilers that heated the 44-room Foxcatcher Estate where du Pont had been hiding for two days (the amount of time is not specified in the movie). He had barricaded himself in the mansion's steel-lined library. They captured him when he came out to fix the boilers.

Did Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo learn to wrestle for their Foxcatcher roles?

Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, who portray brothers Mark and Dave Schultz in the movie, were trained by former college wrestlers Jesse Jantzen (Harvard) and John Guira (Wisconsin). Guira had been one of Dave Schultz's closest friends. Actor Mark Ruffalo also befriended and trained with two-time Olympic gold medalist Bruce Baumgartner, one of Dave Schultz's teammates from the 1984 team.

Right: Wrestler Dave Schultz at Foxcatcher Farm with John du Pont in the early 1990s. Left: Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo as du Pont and Schultz in the movie.

Did Mark Schultz really compete in MMA several months after his brother Dave's murder?

Yes. The Foxcatcher true story confirms that less than four months after his brother's murder, Mark Schultz competed in UFC 9 in Detroit, Michigan on May 17, 1996. He defeated Gary Goodridge in twelve minutes and was awarded the TKO by way of a cut Goodridge had sustained to his head. He had not planned to compete at UFC 9. Mark was a last minute replacement for fighter Dave Beneteau. Though he won his fight, Mark was not the champion of UFC 9, as it was the first UFC production not to feature the tournament format, just a series of regular bouts. See video of Mark Schultz's UFC 9 fight. Unlike what is implied in the movie, this was the only MMA fight that Mark ever competed in. He did not have a career in MMA. Instead, he became a coach at Brigham Young University.

What does Mark Schultz think of Steve Carell as John du Pont?

"You know, it's funny," says Mark Schultz, "when I saw Steve Carell dressed up as du Pont, I had to take a second look because it was so close to the way he actually looked, I thought he had been resurrected from the dead or something. ... Not only does he look like du Pont, he acts just like him too. He's got his mannerisms down. He's got his facial expressions down. It's really just incredible. All the actors did an incredible job, I thought." Watch a John du Pont interview to compare Steve Carell's performance to the real du Pont. -No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman

Did the filmmakers shoot on the grounds of the actual Foxcatcher Estate?

No. John du Pont's Foxcatcher Estate in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania no longer exists. It was torn down in 2013. The land where the estate stood is now part of the Liseter housing development (NBC 10 Philadelphia). For the exterior of the home seen in the movie, the filmmakers used Morven Park, an estate in Leesburg, Virginia. The interior scenes were shot at Wilpen Hall in Sewickley, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.

The real Foxcatcher Estate (top) pictured in 1996 following the murder, and Morven Park (bottom), the Leesburg, Virginia estate used for the exterior shots in the movie.

Does David Schultz's widow approve of the movie?

Yes. Nancy Schultz, the real-life widow of Olympic wrestler David Schultz, not only gave the movie her blessing, she provided personal artifacts for the movie as well, lending the filmmakers photos, home movies, her husband's eyeglasses (which actor Mark Ruffalo wears in the movie) and dinosaur posters from her then 9-year-old son Alexander's bedroom. "The first time I watched the movie, it was very emotional," said Nancy Schultz. "I watched it with my daughter Danielle, in the screening room . . . and we were very quiet for a long time after it was over. It took us a while to get over it." Nancy visited the movie set on Sienna Miller's first day of shooting. -NY Daily News

Did Channing Tatum really cut his head in the mirror smashing scene?

Yes. The mirror had been covered with a plastic sheath to protect Tatum, "But he punched that thing with his head three times and shattered it," says director Bennett Miller, "and put his head through it and through the frame behind the mirror and through the drywall that the mirror was hanging on and left a divot two inches deep. When we took the mirror down, there was a hole in the wall. And he actually cut himself, and you see his blood in that scene." -The Hollywood Reporter

Does the real Mark Schultz have a cameo in the movie?

Yes. "I have a cameo in the movie," says Mark, "where I weigh Channing in as me. He has ninety minutes to lose twelve pounds the day before the '88 Olympic trials. I'm the official that weighs him in." -No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman

Actor Channing Tatum and real-life counterpart Mark Schultz together at the New York Athletic Club circa 2013.

John du Pont Interview & Foxcatcher Related Videos

Further explore the Foxcatcher true story by watching a John du Pont documentary and compare the real John du Pont to the Steve Carell movie character. Also view a 1996 Olympic tribute to David Schultz, an interview with his wife Nancy Schultz, and highlights from his brother Mark Schultz's UFC 9 fight.

 John du Pont Interview 1988

Watch an interview with the real John du Pont. This documentary video was shot by Dave Speace in 1988 for an awards banquet to honor du Pont's donation to the Crozier-Chester Hospital for their new trauma center, the John E. du Pont Trauma Center. Witness John du Pont's strange and awkward demeanor and get a glimpse of life on Foxcatcher Farm (then Liseter Farm), including a look inside the estate and training facilities.

 1996 Dave Schultz Olympic Tribute

Bob Costas and Katie Couric present a tribute to David Schultz during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Dave Schultz's brother Mark, his father, and his wife Nancy Schultz reflect on the Olympic wrestling legend, calling him the man with "10,000 best friends." Photos and home movies of Dave are shown.

 Kurt Angle Interview on Dave Schultz Murder by John du Pont

1996 Olympic champion and former WWE star Kurt Angle talks about the murder of Olympic Gold Medalist Dave Schultz, who was his good friend, mentor and trainer. John du Pont shot Schultz on Foxcatcher Farm in 1996. Kurt Angle says that he and the other wrestlers at Foxcatcher should have realized how dangerous John du Pont was at the time and should have either left or gotten him help.

 Mark Schultz UFC 9 Fight Highlights

Mark Schultz replaced Dave Beneteau when word of mouth alerted officials to Beneteau's broken hand the day before UFC 9 in Detroit, Michigan. Mark defeated Gary Goodridge in a bout that was stopped after twelve minutes due to a cut Gary had sustained. This Mark Schultz UFC 9 video chronicles his May 17, 1996 fight, including the prior day's events that led to Beneteau being considered ineligible.

 Nancy Schultz Foxcatcher Interview

Watch the Nancy Schultz interview from The McGraw Show in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. David Schultz's widow talks about the events depicted in the Foxcatcher movie and commends the actors for their true-to-life performances, commenting on how they remained in character between takes, with Steve Carell keeping his distance from the rest of the cast.

 Foxcatcher Teaser Trailer

Watch the Foxcatcher teaser trailer for the movie starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Carell portrays John du Pont, the American multimillionaire who was convicted of murdering Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz (Ruffalo).

 Foxcatcher Movie Trailer

Watch the Foxcatcher movie trailer for the film starring Steve Carell as millionaire heir John du Pont. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo portray Olympic wrestlers and brothers Mark Schultz and David Schultz, who were recruited by du Pont to be part of his wrestling team. Their relationship with du Pont ended in tragedy on January 26, 1996.

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