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Mudslinging campaigns are never appreciated when a film is working its way down the Oscar campaign trail. Any questions raised about the authenticity of a project only damages the credibility of movies that consider themselves to be Best Picture contenders. Selma faced some uncomfortable questions about its historical accuracy earlier this month, and now Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is taking severe heat from an unexpected source – namely, Mark Schultz, the man on which the movie is based.
Schultz has been posting messages on his Facebook and Twitter account over the past few days, and they have been escalating in hostility toward the movie, and Bennet Miller specifically. Though this Twitter feed is unverified, we believe this to be Schultz’s account, as it matches posts on his Facebook page, as well. The most aggressive Tweets landed online on Dec. 31, when Schultz Tweeted:
And concluded (after a series of similarly angry Tweets):
What could have caused such outrage? Several clues can be found on Mark Schultz’s Facebook page. In a Dec. 29 post, he said it was "pretty lousy" what Bennett Miller did to his character in Foxcatcher. And though several of his followers noted that it’s a movie, and that he should take his beef to Miller (and off Facebook), the former Olympic gold medalist continued to vent on social media.
The most revealing post appeared on Dec. 21, when Schultz explained that efforts were being made to "strip and degrade" the credit he felt he deserved for sharing his life story. In the post, Mark says:
I think I may be the ONLY person on this project that provided a service (consulting) and/or product (my life story) and received zero credit in the film credits for those 2 things. These attempts to strip me of credit are so distasteful I have a hard time believing it doesn't hurt their credibility. Taking credit for other people's work is the lowest thing anyone can do, especially to a wrestler who stands alone, wins alone, and loses alone. Stealing credit for other people's work is what duPont tried to do to me and now it's happening all over again."
And on Dec. 30, Schultz laid out ALL of the mistakes he finds in the movie, narrowing in on the hint of a sexual relationship between himself and John du Pont. This is a must read.
Strangely, these posts are sprinkled next to posts that praise Bennett Miller and Channing Tatum for the work they did on the movie. This was an unexpected outburst, and it will be interesting to see how (and if) Miller chooses to respond. Foxcatcher is in theaters now, and is earning raves for Miller’s direction, as well as for the acting performances of the three male leads – Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. Could this controversy start to damage the film’s reputation? Or is it all a massive misunderstanding?