Of course, after seeing the mesmerizing film of the same name, I had to go directly to the source material. I’m happy to report that Mark Schultz’s account of his time with John du Pont is a fascinating read that puts a lot of the movie in the proper context.
Let’s be clear, Foxcatcher the film took some artistic liberties as you would expect any movie to do. However, according to Schultz’s nonfiction writing, most of the movie’s high notes were accurate. Things were embellished a bit, and the timeline was condensed heavily, but it seems as though the movie truly captured du Pont’s oddity and, to be fair, even Schultz’s.
The first half of the book recounts Schultz’s early life, how he came to wrestle, his life victories, his missteps, and he seems to do so honestly and with humility. He is the first to admit his intensity made him aloof during competition and practice, and that people often misunderstood his brooding silence. The film really played up this aspect of the man. Schultz practically deifies his older brother, and who can blame him? It sounds like David was every bit as likable and charismatic as the film depicted him, and after meeting such a horrendous end, how can we speak poorly of a surviving brother praising his lost loved one?
The second half of the book is when I became acutely interested. Of course, this is when du Pont enters the scene. Schultz clearly hates du Pont, but even so, he did not spout only nasty things about the man. In fact, I was actually surprised that Schultz remained far more objective concerning du Pont than I would have expected. He confesses his own errors with du Pont, he laments putting up with as much as he did, and he regrets ever playing a role in David and du Pont meeting. However, his role was not as great as the movie would suggest, and he certainly wasn’t quite the victim the movie made him out to be. Schultz in fact did stand up to du Pont and left on his own terms more so than the movie stated.
If you were captivated by the film, I urge you to read the book. It is a sobering recollection of an already disturbing story, and it offers insight into the only surviving member of the trinity, a man we really did not get to know all that well beyond the surface – Mark Schultz.