About a year ago when Foxcatcher was on its festival tour, Mark Schultz, who was portrayed by Channing Tatum in the film, said he loved it. Then a few weeks ago, Schultz went on Facebook and Twitter rants, calling out director Bennett Miller and saying the film was a “sickening and disgusting lie.” As if his prior reversal wasn’t already hard enough to parse, Schultz has changed his mind once again, saying he was “temporarily insane.”
Schultz’s initial problem with the film seemed to have a lot to do with the way the relationship between him and DuPont was depicted.
“The personalities and relationships between the characters in the film are primarily fiction and somewhat insulting. Leaving the audience with a feeling that somehow there could have been a sexual relationship between duPont and I is a sickening and insulting lie,” Schultz wrote on Facebook.
“I told Bennett Miller to cut that scene out and he said it was to give the audience the feeling that duPont 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,” he added.
He also referred to Miller as a “punk,” “pussy,” and “liar” on Twitter. Michael DiCandilo, a wrestler for Team Foxcatcher from 1986-1988, corroborated Schultz’s initial problems with the film. In an interview with The Daily Beast, DiCandilo said the scene in which du Pont slaps Schultz “never would have happened in a million years,” that Schultz was merely “tolerating” du Pont to win championships, that Schultz “was not a fragile guy,” and that “the sexual overtones in the movie are awful.” Schultz went out of his way to praise DiCandilo’s account on Twitter. [DailyBeast]
It’s hard to make sense of Schultz’s reversals, but allow me to speculate:
1. Schultz only seemed to get angry at Miller once he saw big, bad critics interpreting a sexual element to his and DuPont’s relationship in the film. Make of it what you will.
2. Miller may have talked Schultz out of this read of the film, and it was ambiguous. It’s not like the movie shows them screwing. (My problem with the film then and now is that it takes a lot of liberties that don’t seem to add up to much. You wonder why Miller’s altering events and timelines if he’s not going to have a coherent take on the material. My sense is that Miller dramatizes individual scenes to make them cinematic, with less care for how it affects the story as a whole.)
3. It’s easier to make critics the bad guys than the people making you money and notoriety. We’re not very likable. Also, maybe Schultz wants to attend the Oscars.
So, what did we learn? It’s tempting to say nothing. But that’s not true. Through it all, one point on which Schultz has never wavered is his support of the man who played him, Channing Tatum.
The takeaway here is that everyone loves C-Tates, even temporarily insane wrestlers sickened and disgusted by a film he starred in. The man is just that likable. I once saw him bring a dead squirrel back to life by twerking on it.