Entertainment & Arts

Steve Carell goes ringside for 'challenging' Foxcatcher

Steve Carrell Image copyright Publicity
Image caption 'I've always played characters with a soft centre somewhere. Du Pont just didn't have that - he just claimed to', says Steve Carell on his role as John Du Pont

Steve Carell shot to fame as the lead in the Judd Apatow comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin, while Channing Tatum is the star of films such as White House Down, and comedies 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike.

But both actors break their own mould in Foxcatcher, director Bennett Miller's intense real-life drama about eccentric American millionaire philanthropist and wrestling enthusiast John Du Pont.

Carell plays Du Pont, while Tatum and Mark Ruffalo take the parts of Mark and Dave Schultz, Olympic-level wrestlers who joined Du Pont's training programme at Foxcatcher Farm in Pennsylvania, with tragic consequences.

At 52, Carell says the film is a "different step" for him and that he "hopes people will embrace the movie and like it and think it works.

"My agent actually put me forward for the part without me knowing, so at least I didn't worry about it.

Image copyright Rebecca Thomas-ONLINE
Image caption Channing Tatum (front) found his role tough in the extreme

He continues: "It wasn't so different doing drama, as opposed to comedy. It's just a different character to play. But for all the script's darkness, it was also absurdly funny in places."

For Tatum, Foxcatcher was "the most intimidating thing that I've ever done. I first read the script about seven years ago as the movie was first proposed in 2007.

"It was great to return to it and have the opportunity to do it, but I had to trust each day that I was up to the job and just put myself out there."

The film explores the events that led up to John Du Pont's arrest, imprisonment and death in a Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in 2010.

Bennett Miller, who also directed Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2005 says he "finds oddballs interesting. I do like those stories about people who are in worlds where they don't belong, peculiar people who don't fit, and John Du Pont was such a man. In this case, because of that, this story has a tragic ending."

Carell says: "I never see John Du Pont as a villain. You can't have contempt for your character.

"I thought he was a guy who was personified by not only his mental state, but his upbringing with his mother Jean.

"I had sympathy for him to a certain extent. I think the difference is that so far, I've always played characters with a soft centre somewhere. Du Pont just didn't have that - he just claimed to.

Image copyright Publicity
Image caption Steve Carell says the fake nose he wore in the movie had a big effect on family and friends

"He also had little understanding of humour, and I just can't imagine going through life without that, without comedy."

Attention has been focused on the prosthetic nose Carell wears throughout, making him virtually unrecognisable and, he says, influencing his performance.

"People actually wanted to be separate from me. I think even my family found it creepy. And that's not so far removed from John Du Pont because, watching documentaries about him, he had an intense physicality which many people found off-putting.

"It was very easy for me to stay in character because of that. I wasn't exactly method acting, but I was definitely in a different state of mind.

"This wasn't a light set, it wasn't a fun film, it was very intense and very serious because some of the characters are still alive and we felt a responsibility.

"It's still something that I think about, and it sounds pretentious, but I feel like we all went as a group to make this film, and then we disappeared for a while. Months later, we re-emerged.

"I still talk to the other guys about it, there's something about the film that I can't shake off."

Foxcatcher is on general release in the UK..

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