During a press day, it’s usually the publicist who gives the signal that time is up. In the case of Bennett Miller, though, he was concerned that the opening and closing of the door would interfere with the sound I was recording. That’s why he set a timer on his phone, and why at the end of our conversation, it’s music that plays me off.
He’s that precise as a filmmaker, too.
When we talked on November 18, 2014, I had an obvious question about that stunning prosthetic nose Steve Carrell wears in his breakout performance as John Du Pont, and the answer Miller gave me was a precis on his method. He’s a man who thinks a great deal about both his work, and the answers he gives in an interview, but also one who relies on his actors to provide as much to his films as the script with which he works, and on which he works along with his writers. In this case, he re-teamed with CAPOTE writer Dan Futterman, as well as bringing in E. Max Frye as co-writer.
We also covered the remarkable way he demonstrated the ennui of wealth as lived by the fabulously wealthy Du Pont family, what comic actors have that dramatic actors don’t, and the difference between truth and facts.
FOXCATCHER is a film about isolation, ambition, and the curse of money or the lack thereof. Based on the true story of John Du Pont, an heir to one of the world’s great fortunes, who dreamed of finding accolades to go with his wealth by sponsoring a wrestling team that would win Olympic gold. With all but unlimited funds at his disposal, he snared David and Mark Schultz, who had already won the gold, but found few accolades, and less money, after the games were over. The project begun with disparate and desperate hopes for success and acceptance became the stuff of Greek tragedy as complicated family relationships boil over, and the separate universes inhabited by each of these three men blow apart. The film stars Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Michael Hall, and Vanessa Redgrave. Miller directed from a script he developed with E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, and he won the best director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for FOXCATCHER. His previous work includes THE CRUISE, his documentary about larger-than-life New York tour guide Timothy “Speed” Levitch, CAPOTE, which won an Oscar™ for star and longtime friend Philip Seymour Hoffman, and MONEYBALL, which was the AFI film of the year.