Channing Tatum is relieved it took director Bennett Miller eight years to bring psychological thriller Foxcatcher to fruition, because he was not ready to tackle such a dark project so early on in his career.
Miller began developing the film back in 2006 and tapped the then-little-known 21 Jump Street star to portray real-life U.S. Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz in the movie, which is based on the wrestler’s autobiography, detailing how he was taken in by eccentric multi-millionaire and convicted murderer John Eleuthere du Pont to train for the 1988 Olympics.
Tatum admits he almost turned down the job at the time because he wasn’t in the right place mentally to get his head around the meaty role.
He tells New York Magazine, “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know how to read scripts, I didn’t know anything about acting, and the way Bennett talked about this wildly dark character (du Pont, played by Steve Carell) weirded me out a little bit, to be honest with you.
“I was super young, and I just didn’t get it. In a way, I think, thank God it didn’t come to fruition then, because I don’t know what it would have turned out to be.”
The film, which had become a passion project for Miller, suffered a series of writing and producing setbacks, but when the moviemaker was ready to return to work on Foxcatcher, he touched base with Tatum once more after briefly considering approaching the likes of Ryan Gosling and the late Heath Ledger for the part of Schultz.
Tatum, 34, explains, “I’d probably gone through a lot of growing in those years as well. We got to talking about Foxcatcher again, and this time, I felt ready to go down this dark road.”
Foxcatcher premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France in May to high praise, with audience members giving the movie a six-minute standing ovation and earning Miller the Best Director award at the prestigious event. It is due for release in November.