The Story Behind Foxcatcher: The Real-Life Murder of Dave Schultz
Mark Schultz opens up about his brother's senseless death in his new memoir Foxcatcher
Ever since he was a kid, Mark Schultz idolized his older brother.
So when Dave Schultz was murdered in cold blood by his athletic sponsor, the eccentric millionaire John du Pont, Mark’s entire world was turned upside down.
“Losing Dave was like losing my anchor,” Mark tells PEOPLE. “Dave was like a one-man cult and I was his follower. When he was killed, I was left floating free, wondering what to do.”
Mark recounts the story of his brother’s senseless death in his new memoir Foxcatcher, out Nov. 18. The events are also the basis for a movie of the same name (not based on Mark’s book), starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell. And the former Office star is earning some major Oscar buzz for his portrayal of du Pont.
The tale is a bizarre one. Both brothers were champion wrestlers, winning Olympic and World golds. Together they dominated the sport.
And then Mark met du Pont in 1986. Heir to DuPont chemical company, he had lots of money and too much time on his hands.
“When I first met du Pont, I thought he was the biggest loser on Earth,” Mark recalls. “His head was caked with dandruff. His teeth were caked with food. He had these little twig arms. It looked like he had swallowed a basketball.
“It was really, really sick,” he says. “I was like, ‘man, has he looked in a mirror lately?’ It just seemed like he had given in to the pleasures of the world. I knew I couldn’t be around this guy.”
But Mark had just been fired from his job as an assistant coach at Stanford University and he was desperate. So when du Pont offered him a job coaching a wrestling team at his estate known as Foxcatcher Farm, Mark accepted despite his reservations.
“I felt trapped,” he says. I had no job. I was like, how am I going to survive? I considered going into the military, I considered going on welfare, but that wasn’t the way I was raised.
“I should have quit wrestling,” Mark admits. “But there was so much pressure on me to win at the Olympics as the defending World champion.”
Working and training at Foxcatcher took its toll and by the time Mark made it to the Olympics he had mentally checked out. “I lost long before I got there,” he says.
The loss might have been just what Mark needed, however. He left Foxcatcher Farm, taking a job as head coach at Brigham Young University, where he found himself again.
But du Pont just hired Dave in Mark’s place. From 1989 to 1996, Dave lived on the estate’s grounds with his family, training “Team Foxcatcher.”
And then one cold January day, du Pont came home and shot Dave while he was working on his car in the driveway.
No motive for the crime was ever given. Du Pont, who died in prison in 2010, simply claimed he was ill.
“Dave always made the major decisions in our lives,” says Mark. “It was like losing my right arm.”
Though his brother is dead, Mark, now 54, thinks Dave played a part in their story becoming a film.
“It really is miraculous,” Mark says. “It’s hard for me to explain how miraculous it is. I wake up every morning in a state of disbelief.”
For an excerpt from Mark’s memoir, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now