Despite playing the American version of the world’s worst boss on The Office for seven seasons, Steve Carell has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most affable and generous professionals in entertainment. It’s that perception that makes his portrayal of blue-blooded Olympic benefactor—and deranged murderer—John du Pont in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher so effectively unsettling, and it certainly contributed to the film’s ecstatic critical reception at May’s Cannes Film Festival. More than two months before Foxcatcher‘s Nov. 14 release date, Carell is already on the short list of contenders for a Best Actor Academy Award.
Perhaps Carell wasn’t the obvious choice to play du Pont, who was psychologically unraveling when he inexplicably gunned down an Olympic wrestler in 1996. But Miller, who memorably cast Jonah Hill in Moneyball, saw an advantage in playing with Carell‘s public persona. “That it’s not obvious was part of the reason why it was right,” Miller says, “because who we think [du Pont] is and who he turns out to be are very different things. I think some of the more obvious choices would have not worked, because right off the bat, you would put them in a category. But having spoken to Steve about the story and a little bit about life, it just felt like one of those opportunities that would permit him to reveal an aspect of himself and hitherto unrevealed talents that he had. It was an occasion to arise to for him. I remember feeling, ‘Well, if it could work with him, there really is nobody better suited to it.'” READ FULL STORY