By Samantha Ofole-Prince
We’ve seen him strip down to his undies in “Magic Mike,” protect the President in “White House Down” and play an undercover police officer at a college in “22 Jump Street.”
In “Foxcatcher,” a psychological drama directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”), Channing Tatum plays Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz.
Based on actual events, the film follows Schultz (Tatum) who is summoned by eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move to his lavish estate and train a newly formed ‘Team Foxcatcher’ for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Schultz, who is struggling in obscurity and poverty in Wisconsin despite winning a medal in 1984, sees the opportunity as a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and accepts the assignment, which ends in tragedy.
With several wrestling scenes in the gripping film, Tatum, who isn’t a skilled wrestler had to learn the signature stances, moves and styles of Mark Schultz and was subjected to grueling training sessions that often continued into the night after long days of filming outside Pittsburgh.
“I challenge anyone who thinks their sport is harder to come and try it,” says Tatum. “This has been the most painful movie I have ever done. I never want to wrestle again.”
Tatum, who has established himself as one of the most sought-after leading men was the only one of the three lead actors who had to perform in front of the real-life person he was playing. Schultz, now a wrestling coach based in Oregon was often on set during filming and Tatum says it was a huge help having him there.
“Having him there was unbelievably helpful at times in terms of the information he was able to provide,” says the actor who also worked with wrestling coordinator John Giura, an Olympic-caliber wrestler. “It was fun but at the same time it was hard work — you don’t know what’s going to wind up in the movie, so you have to stay extremely focused.”
A moving story of brotherly love and misguided loyalty, “Foxcatcher” also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller, and is bound to land Steve Carell who is virtually unrecognizable as the eccentric multi-millionaire John Eleuthère du Pont an Oscar nomination.
This column was printed in the December 14, 2014 - December 27, 2014 edition.