Foxcatcher, directed by Bennett Miller, is a historical biographical film about mark and Dave Schultz, two wrestlers who were recruited by the philanthropist John Eleuthère du Pont to train American wrestlers for the Olympics. The film has received mostly positive reviews and was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards (Best Motion Picture: Drama, Best Actor in a Motion Picture: Drama, and Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture) as well as three Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling).
The film is based on true events and, like any film based on history, does contain some inaccuracies and liberties with the real life events. However, the film was also accurate on many points; let’s look at three ways that Foxcatcher stuck (mostly) to the truth behind the movie.
John Eleuthère du Pont’s connection to the police
In the film, John du Pont is depicted as having a very friendly relationship with the police, local and otherwise; this relationship is implied as being one of the reasons why du Pont’s behavior was brushed aside and ignored for many years. This relationship–and subsequent protection–appears to be true to life. John du Pont actually allowed local police to practice shooting on his personal estate, and was awarded his own special official police badge; this badge allowed him access to certain personal perks, including (allegedly) drugs from police evidence vaults.
The Schultz brother rivalry
One of the primary storylines in Foxcatcher is a rivalry between Mark and Dave Schulz, the brothers trained by du Pont. This rivalry is mostly based on real life. Dave naturally excelled at wrestling due to his physicality, while Mark was better at more “limber” physical sports, such as gymnastics. Mark wrote in his memoir that he felt ‘resentful’ of his brother’s natural talent and that “down deep inside, I knew what my problem was. My ego.”
Mark’s “nearly impossible” binge session
In the film, Mark is shown retreating to his room during the Olympic trials and binge eating on an immense amount of food after a loss. His brother, however, gives him a pep talk that inspires him to do an intense crash workout that allows him to lose the “food weight” gained by his binge eating, go back to the trials, and win the next two matches.
This is based on a real life event from Mark Schultz’s memoir and is, barring a handful of small details, almost exactly true to life.