Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reel People: Steve Carrell is John du Pont

The film is Foxcatcher. Foxcatcher is directed by Bennett Miller (Oscar nominee, Capote), with a screenplay by E. Max Fry and Dan Futternman (Oscar nominee, Capote).

John du Pont

John Eleuthère du Pont was born November 22, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of four children. His father William du Pont, Jr. was an American businessman, banker and all-star of the horse breeding circuit, as breeder and race venue designer. His mother Jean Liseter Austin also came from a prominent family, and the family grew up in a mansion in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

In 1941, when John was an infant, his parent's divorced.  John would eventually attend and graduate from the elite all-boys preparatory Haveford School.

The same year he graduated in 1957 he founded the Delaware Museum of Natural History, which he would eventually help open in 1972.

In 1965 in graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in zoology.

He returned to Philadelphia to attend Villanova University where he earned a doctoral degree in natural science in 1973. During this time he studied and published a number of books on birds through the Delaware Museum of Natural History, including Living Volutes: A Monograph of the Recent Volutidae of The World (1970), Philippine Birds (1971) and South Sulu Archipelago Birds (1973). He would continue his studies and publish South Pacific Birds in 1976.

In 1983, when he was 45 he married a therapist named Gale Wenk, but the marriage was annulled 90 days after they were married.

John du Pont was really involved in athletic philanthropy funding many athletes, including gymnast, triathletes, and swimmers. He also helped Villanova University fund a new basketball arena which openeed in 1986, which opened up initially as the John Eleuthère du Pont Pavilion.

In 1988 when his mother died he assumed stewardship of the Liseter Farm, and renamed it "Foxcather Farm" after the name of his father's thoroughbred racing stables. In addition to maintaining the working farm, he also added a wrestling facility for amateur wrestlers. He called his team "Team Foxcatcher." John allowed his friend, Olympic wrestler David Schultz, and Olympic Gold Medal wrestler, live at the farm. Schultz and his wife, Nancy, lived on the grounds for years.

John du Pont took up wrestling himself in his 50s, and began training and competing.

On January 26, 2006 John du Pont was seen shooting Dave Schultz on the driveway of the Schultz home on du Pont's property. After the murder, du Pont locked himself in the house for two days while he negotiated with the police on the phone. Police where able to get John by turning of the power and getting him when he came outside to fix the power.

In a unique court case which started with a plead of "not guilty by reason of insanity," but resulted in a change of "third degree murder but mentally ill," John du Pont was given 13-30 years in prison. Nancy Shultz also filed a wrongful death suit that resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement. No motive for the shooting was ever established.

Du Pont was placed in a minimum security prison. When du Pont was first eligible for parole in 2009 it was denied. On December 10, 2010 he died of an unspecified health issue after being found unresponsive in his bed at correctional institution.

Du Pont remained in the media after his death with a disputed will that gave 80 percent of his estate to Bulgarian wrestler Valentin Yordanov.


The film Foxcatcher focuses on the dynamics between John du Pont, David Shultz and his brother Mark Schultz.

In addition to Steve Carrell playing the part of John du Pont, the fiilm also stars Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, with Mark Ruffalo playing his brother David Schultz. Sienna Miller plays the part of Dave's wife, Nancy Shultz.. Anthony Michael Hall plays du Pont's assistant, and Vanessa Redgrave plays his mother Jean Liseter Austin.

Steve Carrell's opportunity to play a mentally ill wealthy wrestling fanatic in a bio film could be the perfect opportunity for Carrell to impress the critics in a dynamic and career defining role. Under director Bennett Miller, could Steve Carrell receive an Oscar nomination, maybe even a win, for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?