Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell aren’t the only stars to be in the much-anticipated Foxcatcher movie. A number of top former college wrestlers – including an Olympian – will also be a part of the cast of the movie about the legendary wrestling brothers Mark and Dave Schultz, based on statements from participants made directly to College Wrestling Examiner.
In January, College Wrestling Examiner reported that former American University wrestler Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov – now an assistant coach at Harvard – portrays Turkish wrestler Necmi Gencalp in a match with Mark Schultz (played by Tatum) at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
In recent days, other wrestlers have revealed to College Wrestling Examiner that they too have taken to the mat in the Foxcatcher film.
Jake Herbert, 2012 US Olympic freestyle wrestler and two-time NCAA champ for Northwestern, got the ball rolling this week with this message on his Facebook page: “My first big screen appearance Dec. 20 -- what a Christmas gift. Excited to see it all come together” with a link to the Aug. 15 College Wrestling Examiner article announcing the just-before-Christmas release date for Foxcatcher.
When asked who he plays in the movie, Herbert replied via Twitter, “Mike Sheets, two-time NCAA champ and a veterinarian now. Needed someone to match the part lol.” (Sheets, an Oklahoma State wrestler, went up against cross-state rival Dave Schultz of the University of Oklahoma a number of times during the 1982 season, losing to Schultz in the 167-pound finals at the 1982 NCAAs. Sheets went on to win two NCAA titles.)
A couple days later, former Ohio State heavyweight J.D. Bergman mentioned on his Facebook page that he too had a role in Foxcatcher. Asked about who he portrays in the film, Bergman, a member of the 2013 US World freestyle team, responded, “Just an Olympic wrestler - no one specific.”
Bergman then revealed that a number of other wrestlers had been cast in the much-anticipated movie about the murder of beloved US wrestler/coach Dave Schultz (played by Mark Ruffalo) at the hands of multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) on the latter’s Foxcatcher estate outside Philadelphia in Jan. 1996. The three-time NCAA All-American for the Buckeyes mentioned that fellow former Ohio State NCAA finalists Reece Humphrey and Mike Pucillo, along with Keith Gavin and Zach Rey are among the mat stars that have a role in the movie.
Keith Gavin’s Facebook page confirms that the 2008 NCAA champ for the University of Pittsburgh indeed appears in Foxcatcher, all the more appropriate, given that a number of scenes in the movie were filmed at Pitt’s Peterson Events Center. “Check this out!! My nephew Keith Gavin is in this movie,” wrote his proud aunt, Heidi Lavin Gowarty, on the wrestler’s Facebook. “He is wrestling Channing (Tatum). Keith in the movie is a Bulgarian wrestler! Some guys have all the luck. Keith, you know I'll see it!!!”
Another mat champ appearing in Foxcatcher is David Zabriskie, 2010 NCAA heavyweight titlewinner for Iowa State. When asked about his role in the movie, the former Cyclone wrestler turned Lehigh assistant coach responded, “I don't play a real person in the movie. Just a Foxcatcher wrestler named Dan Bane.”
On Sunday, Aug. 25, National Wrestling Hall of Fame member Gene Mills notified College Wrestling Examiner that he too is in the movie. "I played a ref for Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) vs the Bulgarian (Keith Gavin) in the finals of the Worlds in Cleremont-Ferrand, France. It was fun."
The use of wrestlers with college and freestyle experience is yet another indicator that Foxcatcher’s Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller and staff are striving to provide a realistic portrayal of the sport. Ruffalo, a wrestler in high school, worked with former college wrestlers John Guira (Wisconsin), Jesse Jantzen (Harvard), and four-time Olympic medalist Bruce Baumgartner. In addition, the movie hired real-world referee Fred Feeney to play an on-the-mat official in a Mark Schultz match at the 1988 Seoul Olympics vs. Turkey’s Gencalp (Abdurakhmanov).
Meet the mat stars who are in Foxcatcher... Check out College Wrestling Examiner's photo album/list of the NCAA All-Americans, champs and even an Olympian who play a part in this much-anticipated movie.
Were you in Foxcatcher? If you're a freestyle or college wrestler who had a role in the Foxcatcher movie, please contact Mark Palmer by clicking on the College Wrestling Examiner link under Jake Herbert's photo.
Want to know more...
- ... about Foxcatcher, the movie? Check out stories posted to Examiner.com about Foxcatcher, most of them by College Wrestling Examiner. And check out the Foxcatcher listing at IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database) which features all the info could want on the movie, including a cast list.
- ... the murder of Dave Schultz? Read InterMat's 2006 story, "The Life and Legacy of Dave Schultz, Chapter 1: The Day Wrestling Died."
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