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Pain & Gain: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris
based on Pete Collins "Miami New Times" Article "Pain & Gain"

Mark Wahlberg
Born: June 5, 1971
Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Daniel Lugo
Born: April 6, 1963
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Dwayne Johnson
Born: May 2, 1972
Hayward, California, USA
Carl Weekes
Born: September 11, 1963
Birthplace: USA
Anthony Mackie
Born: September 23, 1979
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Adrian Doorbal
Born: December 21, 1971
Birthplace: Trinidad
Tony Shalhoub
Born: October 9, 1953
Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Marc Schiller
Born: August 1957
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rebel Wilson
Born: February 3, 1986
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Cindy Eldridge
Born: June 26, 1963
Birthplace: Florida, USA
Ed Harris
Born: November 28, 1950
Tenafly, New Jersey, USA
Ed Du Bois
Born: August 3, 1943
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, USA
Bar Paly
Born: April 29
Ural Mountains, Russia
Sabina Petrescu
Born: May 14, 1969
Birthplace: Romania
Rob Corddry
Born: February 4, 1971
Weymouth, Massachusetts, USA
John Mese
Born: September 15, 1938
Birthplace: Florida, USA
Obviously at the end they tried to kill me -- and it wasn't that funny when they tried to kill me. They did run me over with a car twice after trying to blow me up in the car. I was in a coma and somehow I got out. … It wasn't that funny because I had substantial injuries. … The way they tell it made it look like a comedy. You also gotta remember that not only I went through this, but certain people were killed, so making these guys look like nice guys is atrocious. - Marc Schiller (The Huffington Post, April 12, 2013)

Questioning the Story:

Is Dwayne Johnson's character, Paul Doyle, actually based on a real-life individual?

Dwayne Johnson and Jorge Delgado
Jorge Delgado (right) was also part of the inspiration for Dwayne Johnson's character Paul Doyle (left).
Yes, but not just one individual. During our research into the Pain & Gain true story, we learned that the real Paul Doyle is a composite of primarily Carl Weekes, with shades of Jorge Delgado (pictured left) and Mario Sanchez thrown in (Sanchez was a weightlifting instructor brought in to serve as the intimidator during the Schiller kidnapping).

Survivor Marc Schiller describes the Havana-born Jorge Delgado as "meek," going on to say that "he wouldn't hurt a fly." Physically, the 140-pound lightweight Carl Weekes and the tall, thin Jorge Delgado are quite the opposite of Dwayne Johnson's Paul Doyle ( In the movie, Doyle is a muscle-bound ex-con and a recovering addict who becomes hooked on cocaine. New York native Carl Weekes was also an ex-con who had issues with alcohol and crack cocaine. Like Dwayne Johnson's Doyle, Carl Weekes had found Christianity after he got clean. Jorge Delgado on the other hand, had a wife and had not been to prison until after he was found guilty for his role as a member of the Sun Gym gang.

In 1996, Jorge Delgado confessed his role in the kidnappings, pointing the finger at Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal for the murder and dismemberment of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton. Like Dwayne Johnson's character in the movie, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Delgado was released in 2002, after serving only seven. As for Carl Weekes, the biggest part of the Paul Doyle composite, he was given a ten-year sentence for his role in the Schiller abduction.

Did they really disguise themselves as ninjas?

No, but during one of their kidnapping attempts, they did dress in all black, paint their faces with military makeup, and wore gloves. In the movie, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) disguise themselves as ninjas and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) wears a green spandex costume when they attempt to kidnap Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). The real Sun Gym gang only discussed wearing ninja costumes to abduct Marc Schiller on Halloween night. Their plan, which they never executed, was to knock on Schiller's door disguised as trick-or-treaters and nab him when he opened it to give them candy.

Ken Jeong and Tom Vu
'90s motivational guru Tommy Vu (right) was part of the inspiration for the movie's Johnny Wu (left).
Is the motivational speaker in the movie, Johnny Wu, based on a real person?

In the movie, Mark Wahlberg's character, Daniel Lugo, is motivated by an infomercial motivational guru named Johnny Wu, who is portrayed by actor Ken Jeong. During an interview, actor Ken Jeong answered the above question by saying, "It's an amalgamation of different motivational speakers. Loosely based on Tom Vu who was a famous motivational speaker in the '90s, who had bikini girls and some similar wardrobe."

Were the kidnappers really screw-ups?

Yes. The mishaps of the real kidnappers makes it easy to see why Michael Bay decided to turn Pete Collins' Pain & Gain article into a dark comedy, shifting the focus away from the more serious side of the Pain and Gain true story. With one victim, the real Sun Gym gang used too much horse tranquilizer. Vehicles that the trio used in the kidnapping attempts wouldn't start, including outside of Schlotzsky's Sandwich Shop, which was then owned by survivor Marc Schiller. A chainsaw that they planned to use to cut up bodies failed to start because they forgot to put motor oil in it (in the movie, an electric chainsaw becomes clogged with hair). They burnt out the engine trying to start it, prompting them to return the saw to Home Depot. These mishaps are in addition to it taking roughly a half-dozen tries to successfully kidnap Marc Schiller.

What do the victims and their family members think of the Pain & Gain movie?

Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton
The real Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton (top) were murdered and dismembered at the hands of the Sun Gym gang like in the movie (bottom).
Survivor Marc Schiller and the family members of the victims are furious over the movie's comedic take on the ordeal. Zsuzsanna Griga's brother Frank and his girlfriend Krisztina Furton were murdered and dismembered by members of the gang. Zsuzsanna says that the movie's depiction of the gang as sympathetic goofballs is "ridiculous." She adds, "It's horrible what happened to them. I don't want the American public to be sympathetic to the killers."

"The way they tell it made it look like a comedy," explains survivor Marc Schiller. "You also gotta remember that not only I went through this, but certain people were killed, so making these guys look like nice guys is atrocious" ( Throughout his ordeal with the gang, Schiller had been Tased, burned, beaten, pistol-whipped and forced to endure games of Russian roulette. When the gang was done with him, they made him wash down sleeping pills with liquor, put him behind the wheel of his Toyota 4Runner, and rammed it into a utility pole to make it look like a drunk driving accident. Seeing that he was still alive, they then doused the vehicle with fuel and set it on fire with him in it, but Schiller jumped out of the flaming car. Staggering, the gang ran him over twice with a Camry (not a van) and left him for dead. Miraculously, he lived after eventually coming out of a coma and woke up in the hospital (

Is the real Victor Kershaw a sleezy criminal like the movie makes him out to be?

Not exactly. After watching the Pain & Gain movie trailer, the Argentinean Marc Schiller reacted to Tony Shalhoub's character by saying that the brash Victor Kershaw is all wrong, "There is no resemblance to me at all," Schiller says. "I was always a humble, family person." At the time, Schiller lived in a two-story house with his wife and two children. He says that he never smoked cigars and he wasn't surrounded by women in scant bikinis. He owned the then failing Schlotzsky's Deli franchise, but he still had over seven-figures in the bank thanks to his nutritional supplements companies.

As far as being a criminal, the day that Marc Schiller testified against the Sun Gym gang, federal agents arrested him as he left the courthouse. He was charged with orchestrating a Medicare billing scheme through his nutritional supplements companies. Making matters worse, Sun Gym gang member Jorge Delgado, who is loosely represented in the movie by Dwayne Johnson's Paul Doyle, was one of the witnesses who testified against Schiller, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government. He received 46 months in prison and was ordered to pay back $14.6 million to the government. This amount was later reduced to $128,597.87.

Marc Schiller attempts to reveal the true story behind the Pain & Gain movie in his book Pain and Gain - The Untold True Story.

The sleazy side of Tony Shalhoub's character Victor Kershaw could also have been inspired by Frank Griga, who is portrayed by actor Michael Rispoli in the movie. Griga was a millionaire who made his fortune from running a phone sex business. Similar to the habits of Shalhoub's character in the movie, a photo exists of Griga sitting poolside with his arms around to women in bikinis. As depicted in the film, Griga and his girlfriend Krisztina Furton were murdered and dismembered by members of the Sun Gym gang.

Pain and Gain Book The Untold True Story by Marc SchillerPain and Gain - The Untold True Story is Marc Schiller's autobiographical account of his kidnapping and attempted murder at the hands of the Sun Gym gang. He is portrayed by Tony Shalhoub in the movie.

Did they really barbecue the hands and feet outside the warehouse?

Yes, but the true story behind Pain & Gain reveals that it was Daniel Lugo who did the grilling, not Jorge Delgado (the real Paul Doyle). Instead of an actual barbecue grill, Lugo carried a steel drum outside and laid an iron grate on top. He tossed Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton's hands, feet and skull fragments onto the grate, doused them in gasoline and began to grill. When Jorge Delgado returned to the warehouse, he yelled at Lugo, who reluctantly agreed to move his operation from in front of the warehouse to the rear alley.

Were Krisztina Furton's breast implants really used to identify her body?

Yes. Towards the end of the Pain & Gain movie, it is revealed that during the autopsy of Frank Griga's girlfriend's torso, the manufacturer's information on her breast implants is what allowed authorities to identify her remains. This is true. The real Krisztina Furton was in fact identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. It was the first time in Dade County history that the primary identification of a murder victim was made using breast implants.

Body Parts Being Dumped
Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton's body parts are dumped from a steel drum that the gang buried in the Everglades.
How have the actors responded to the outrage expressed by the victims and their family members?

During an E! Entertainment red carpet interview in Miami, Mark Wahlberg responded to the outrage expressed by both the survivor and the victims' family members. "Obviously, I was very sensitive to the victims and their families," says Wahlberg, "and you know, it's hard, when your making a movie it's hard to please everybody, but hopefully when they see the movie they'll be a little bit more understanding. We try to protect their identity, and hopefully they're not going to be upset."

"This story rocked our city," says actor Dwayne Johnson, who was attending Miami University when the events occurred. "It was a crazy time down here then."

Did the real Paul Doyle rob an armored truck and get his toe shot off?

No. In the Pain & Gain movie, Dwayne Johnson's character robs an armored truck, only to have a green dye pack inside one of the money bags explode in his face. As he flees the pursuing officers, he gets his toe shot off and he subsequently feeds it to Frank Griga's dog. This whole sequence is entirely fictional. No member of the Sun Gym gang robbed an armored truck or had their toe shot off during the real-life events.

Pain and Gain Sun Gym T-ShirtThe Pain & Gain Sun Gym T-Shirt was inspired by the ones worn by Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg in the movie.

How accurate is Rebel Wilson's character compared to the real Ramona Eldridge?

Cindy Eldridge and Actress Rebel Wilson
Cindy Eldridge (left) and her onscreen counterpart (top) are physical contradictions. Photo:
Rebel Wilson's character in the movie is loosely based on Cindy Eldridge, the real Ramona Eldridge. Like Rebel Wilson's Ramona, Cindy did work as a nurse, but she didn't meet Adrian Doorbal while she was working. Instead, she met him by chance in June of 1994 at Bay restaurant in Key Biscayne on the evening of her surprise party for her 31st birthday. The two began to date and during their relationship, she did point him in the direction of a doctor who used hormone therapy to treat the weak libidos of steroid users. The two dated for over a year and in the end they did marry, but the union lasted just four days. Cindy filed for divorce when she realized Adrian only married her so that she couldn't testify against him with regard to his role in the kidnapping of Marc Schiller and the murders of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton. Physically, Cindy Eldridge was a fitness enthusiast and was much thinner than her onscreen counterpart Ramona.

Did the real Victor Kershaw help catch Daniel Lugo by hitting him with a car in the Bahamas?

No. The real Victor Kershaw, Marc Schiller, did not hit Daniel Lugo with a car to help capture him. However, Lugo did in fact flee to the Bahamas. He went there with the real Sorina Luminita (Sabina Petrescu) and his parents, but neither Marc Schiller nor detective Ed Du Bois were there during his capture. Instead, he was apprehended at the Hotel Montague in Nassau by a multiagency task force. Like in the movie, upon seeing the array of police cars waiting for him on the tarmac back in Miami, he asked, "Is that all for me?"

Pain & Gain Interviews and Related Video

Watch the Marc Schiller interview where he speaks out with regard to the Pain & Gain true story, addressing the controversy surrounding the movie. Also view the movie trailer.

 Kidnapping Victim Marc Schiller Speaks Out

Survivor Marc Schiller is interviewed and speaks out with regard to the movie's inaccuracies. Schiller is upset with the portrayal of his onscreen counterpart, Victor Kershaw, as well as the fact that the film is a dark comedy. He explains that their was nothing comedic about his kidnapping and torture.

 Pain & Gain Movie Trailer

Watch the Pain & Gain trailer for the Michael Bay movie starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub and Ed Harris. The movie tells the story of a trio of bodybuilders who devise a kidnapping and extortion plot that goes horribly wrong. It is based on the true story of the Sun Gym gang.

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