NEW YORK (AP) – Long before Steve Carell was showered in acclaim for his startling transformation into John du Pont for the true-crime drama Foxcatcher, he was walking home from set, commiserating with co-star Mark Ruffalo.
“We both looked at each other really in agreement that the whole thing was crazy and what we were doing was so far out there,” Carell recalled in a recent interview. “”We both felt we were taking huge swings.”
You, too, might be a tad nervous about how you’d come off if you were – like Carell – fitted with a prosthetic nose, covered in three-hours of makeup, and asked to portray, with sombre severity, an increasingly psychotic, chemical empire heir with both a raging mother complex and a proclivity for sweat pants.
Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, in which du Pont tragically befriends Olympic wrestler brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Ruffalo) Schultz, certainly had the potential of failing to pin down its stranger-than-fiction tale and leave Carell flopping on the mat.
“We weren’t going to go halfway with it. That would have ended up being nothing,” Carell says. “We both felt very vulnerable, that it could potentially be the worst thing we’d ever done or the best, but there was little in between.”
The needle has clearly swung to “best.”
Carell’s performance has been hailed as one of the most extraordinary of the year, one immediately inducted into the rich history of comedic actors veering into dramatic territory. Carell, who was named the most outstanding performer of the year by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, is considered a shoo-in for a best actor nomination.
“It’s definitely darker than most anything I’ve ever done,” Carell said. “The fact that Bennett had faith in me to do it, that was really a reward in itself, getting that kind of affirmation from someone like that.”