“I think I can comfortably say we were all very happy when the movie was over,” says Channing Tatum of making the crime drama Foxcatcher.
Based on a true story, the movie begins with former Olympian Mark Schultz, played by Tatum, training to regain the glory of his past achievements. When he accepts multi-millionaire John du Pont’s (Steve Carell) offer of sponsorship he begins a journey that will end in world championship glory and murder.
Director Bennett Miller wanted Foxcatcher to be the follow-up to his Oscar winning biopic Capote. When he first approached Tatum to play Schultz the muscle bound actor was best known as the eye candy in teen comedies like She’s the Man and dance movies like Step Up.
“I think the first time I read the script I just didn’t understand why you’d want to make the film,” he says. “There’s no resolve to any of this. No lesson learned. It’s way more complicated than that. It’s actually more close to life. It is a portrait of something that happened. I don’t think I was anywhere near to understanding the story or the character. I think I did a lot of growing in those seven years. I fell in love with this idea of attempting this.”
The actor threw himself into the role, studying wrestling, which he says is impossible to fake on screen—“It is just a melee but you get used to being inside that melee.”—and even destroying a hotel room in one powerful scene.
“I told them, ‘Whatever is in that room probably won’t come out not broken.’ That is all from Mark Schultz. He told me he would punish himself so badly after losing that he would make losing so much worse than any physical pain he was going through in the match so he would never want to lose again.”
He kept up that level of intensity for the whole shoot. “It just never stopped,” he said, not even when his wife, actress Jenna Dewan, came to visit.
“My wife was pregnant and she came to Pittsburgh during [the shoot],” he says. “She was supposed to stay a week but left after the second day. She was like, ‘Nope. It is not healthy for me to be here. You’re in a weird place. It’s OK but I’m just going to go now. Love you! Call me at least once a night before you go to bed and we’ll be fine.’”