Many people still associate Steve Carell the most with either his lovable buffoon characters – like Brick Tamland in Anchorman or Michael Scott on The Office (U.S.) TV series – or his put-upon straight-man roles in such movies as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Date Night and Crazy, Stupid, Love. That is, despite the increasing number of serious dramatic performances that Carell has amassed under his belt, since he broke-out as a Hollywood leading (funny)man after years of working on series like The Dana Carvey Show and The Daily Show.
Carell’s most widely-known semi-comedic screen performance is probably still that from Little Miss Sunshine, wherein he portrayed a Proust literature expert who attempts to commit suicide after he experiences intense frustration professionally, in addition to personal heartbreak. However, the actor stands a reasonable chance of getting more awards season recognition this year, given the meaty role he plays in the upcoming true-story drama Foxcatcher.
Foxcatcher – which gained an Oscar-friendly release date just last week – is based on the real-life story, about how Olympic wrestling brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) befriended John du Pont (Carell): the heir to the du Pont Chemical fortune, whose eccentric nature and habits were, in fact, a result from him being a paranoid schizophrenic (spoiler: their relationship did not end well). Sienna Miller (The Girl), Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight) and Vanessa Redgrave (The Butler) rounded out the supporting cast for the film, which was directed by Oscar-nominee Bennett Miller (Moneyball).
The first image of Carell as Mr. du Pont in Foxcatcher has been released (courtesy of EW) – and, as you can see below, the actor went grey and donned facial prosthetics, in order to better fit in his character’s (figurative) not-so-comfortable shoes:
[Click for Full-Sized Version]
When asked why Carell had been cast in Foxcatcher, Miller told EW:
“We just had our first test [screening], and not everybody recognized Steve. He is aged [for the film], and his face is changed, and his physicality changed… John DuPont was a character who nobody thought was capable of doing something as horrible as he did. And I did not want to cast somebody who would feel dangerous in that way.”
The director goes on to mention that “I just think there’s a hell of a lot more to Steve than he tends to show.” Indeed, Carell often brings a feeling of heavy-heartedness and melancholy to his dramatic roles, often lending more depth to a character that might’ve otherwise felt thinly-sketched or two-dimensional (see his performances in films like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and The Way, Way Back).
In other words, Carrell is a good choice to make a strong impression, while drawing a meaningful portrait of the schizophrenic du Pont heir. That goes double for Miller and at least half of the Foxcatcher writing duo, Dan Futterman – who teamed with screenwriter E. Max Frye (Where the Money Is) – as the Miller-Futterman pairing has yielded excellent returns in the past. That is, back when they drew from similar bleak subject matter on their previous collaboration, Capote, which is the chilling drama about the titular author’s efforts to write the book “In Cold Blood.”
Foxcatcher opens in U.S. theaters on December 20th, 2013.