For many men, being depicted by Channing Tatum in a film about your life would be a compliment.
“Based on a true story” is film code for “this may or may not have happened, but almost certainly not in this way.” And while biopic fare usually speaks for the uncomplaining dead, the very much alive Schultz has a few issues with how his relationship with the real John du Pont is portrayed in the film.
An eccentric millionaire with a reputation for erratic and violent behavior, John du Pont was a member of a family whose fortunes in the 20th century were inextricably linked with the industrial production of lead. (Few reports of his mental illness discuss lead poisoning as a possible reason for his mental deterioration.) After a period of increasingly frequent erraticism and violence, in 1996 John du Pont shot and killed Mark Schultz’s older brother David at the private mansion where the elder Schultz was an Olympic wrestling coach.
The film dramatizes the years Mark Schultz lived at du Pont’s athletic training facility known as Foxcatcher Farm. In the film, Steve Carell portrays du Pont and hints he manipulated his hired protégé into a non-consensual homosexual relationship. Rumors about the real life sexuality seem to stem from a late ‘80s lawsuit that alleged wrongful termination of Foxcatcher assistant coach Andre Metzger for refusing du Pont’s sexual advances. At the murder trial, former Foxcatcher wrestler Rob Calabrese testified to having seen Mark Schultz and John du Pont doing lines of cocaine together, a claim Schultz reiterates in his book (released a few days after the film).
Foxcatcher’s director Bennett Miller’s previous semi-non-fictional works Capote and Moneyball have attracted similar claims of embellishment. But starting on December 29, a series of Facebook posts to Schultz’s profile called out Bennett Miller for exaggerating details of his life:
A few hours later, at 1:07 AM, Schultz followed up with a lengthy explanation of everything the movie got wrong:
The champion wrestler stated:
● I was already an Olympic and WORLD Champion before I met du Pont
● The director took my 1985 World Title away in the film
● I was not emotionally fragile as critics suggest
● I didn’t move to Pennsylvania to wrestle for Foxcatcher
● I never looked up to duPont as a mentor, leader, father figure
● He was a lot dirtier the first time I met him and he was drunk
● I never touched him except for a photo at the hall of fame and when I threw him in a headlock for a documentary
● I never showed him any moves or taught him anything about wrestling
● I never coached him in a wrestling match
● I never read any speech he gave me
● I never dyed my hair
● Dave was my older brother, not a father-figure
● I never worked out in the new wrestling complex duPont built in the film
● If du Pont ever slapped me I’d have knocked his head off
● I never wrestled after Dave moved onto Foxcatcher Farms
● Dave was never a head coach anywhere
● I was a Division I University Head Coach for 6 years
● Dave was intelligent but no more than me
● 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
● I told Bennett Miller to cut that scene
Schultz then posted a message from a “Debi Miller” in which the sender defended the fictionalized version of Mark Schultz in the film, but said it was “unrecognizable” compared to the real person:
Mark’s most recent status update was posted at 7 a.m. on December 31. It expressed Schultz’s opinion in plain English: