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Schultz legacies remain alive with two films
By Sandy Stevens
Editor’s Note: The following column first appeared in WIN, Volume 19, Issue 4 and printed Jan. 9, 2013.
The upcoming movie, “Foxcatcher,” which focuses on Mark Schultz’ trials and troubles between the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and his complicated relationship with sponsor John DuPont, has the wrestling world … and Hollywood … abuzz.
But that’s not why Nancy Schultz sold her home, rented a house near the San Francisco airport and spent the last two years flying around the country.
Nancy’s time and energies have been centered on a forthcoming documentary about Olympic and World champion Dave Schultz, her late husband (and Mark’s brother), who was shot and killed by DuPont on the Foxcatcher estate in 1996.
The documentary, which does not have an official name other than “the Schultz documentary” at this point, is directed by Jon Greenhaugh and produced by Neil Fazzary. It covers the time from when Dave and Nancy and their children Danny and Xander moved onto the farm until Dave’s death. The film will include home footage, wrestling films, news reports and interviews with nearly four dozen individuals.
“The amount of information they have to go through is huge,” Nancy said. “This is almost an investigative film. There’s been information that is absolutely enlightening, from police officers and estate security guards, for example.”
Jon, a high school and collegiate wrestler and son of Sonny Greenhaugh, a National Wrestling Hall of Fame Order of Merit recipient and long-time mainstay of the New York Athletic Club, first approached Nancy about a documentary more than five years ago.
She liked the idea but not the timing. “I still had two kids at home, and I had some concern about bringing some notoriety and fame to John DuPont while he was still alive,” she explained.
Jon did some research but put aside the Schultz concept and, with a master’s degree in TV, radio and film from Syracuse University, went on to other projects: “The Smashing Machine,” an HBO documentary about extreme fighter Mark Kerr, and “Rank,” a story of three professional bull riders that was featured on the Independent Film Channel.
Following DuPont’s death two years ago, Nancy realized that her children — Xander, 26, completing a degree in finance and economics in the University of San Francisco’s honors program, and Danny, 23, a horseback riding competitor — were now on their own and she had the unique opportunity to help make the documentary.
“It’s going to speak to so many different facets: brothers, wrestlers, even financial (situations),” Nancy said. “There’s a unique wrestling family dynamic that’s an integral part of this film, especially in Dave’s absence.
“My children lost their dad, but they gained a whole family of wrestlers who supported them, and they still do. They truly were raised by the sport of wrestling. When Xander was 10, he said, ‘I’m sorry I lost dad, but I’m glad he was who he was.’
“Dave’s life was an interesting life, and he was an interesting and amazing person,” Nancy said. “It’s going to be a remarkable film.”
Jon said he was surprised to discover “the moral conundrum Dave and the other wrestlers were placed in in order to pursue their Olympic dreams, because they were dealing with a guy becoming increasingly mentally ill. DuPont was riding a fine line between eccentricity and insanity.
“Dave was the one who told DuPont the truth, the one John listened to, but DuPont was surrounded by enablers. At some point, he started to see Dave as an adversary; he lost sight of a true friendship.”
Nancy has two goals for the documentary, scheduled for late fall.
“I hope it reaches a greater audience to really meet Dave Schultz and understand what a unique and wonderful human being he was,” she said, “and I hope for my kids to get to really hear from so many and to see that. I think they’ll get to know him again as adults, and that makes me happy.”
In the meantime, Nancy has been on the “Foxcatcher” movie set several times. The film boasts a big-name director, Bennett Miller (“Moneyball,” “Capote”) and big-name actors Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller and Steve Carell. Numerous former and current wrestlers have also been involved, including John Guira, the film’s full-time wrestling consultant.
“They’ve honored me with the ability to consult on accuracy,” Nancy said. “I’m totally amazed not only by Bennett Miller but also by Mark Ruffalo in his desire to get the depiction of Dave totally down.”