Benedict Cumberbatch responds to ‘very odd’ criticism of The Power of the Dog

Virgin Radio

7 Mar 2022, 15:56

Credit: Getty / Netflix

Credit: Getty / Netflix

Benedict Cumberbatch is standing by his Oscar-nominated drama The Power of the Dog.

The highly-praised Western was criticised by veteran actor Sam Elliott for its depiction of characters 'running around in chaps and no shirts.'

77-year-old Sam is best known for starring in Westerns such as The Way West and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and said he found The Power of the Dog’s portrayal of the American West ‘f****** personal’ and questioned what New Zealand director Jane Campion ‘knows about the American West.’ 

Sam shared his comments while on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF, where he also took umbrage to the ‘allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie.’

In The Power of the Dog, based on the 1967 novel of the same name, Benedict stars as cowboy Phil Burbank, who struggles with repressed sexuality as well as toxic masculinity, grief, resentment and jealousy. 

During a BAFTA Film Session, Benedict was asked why it’s important to look into a character like Phil Burbank today, and the actor used this as a chance to defend the movie. 

Benedict insisted that there are ‘so many Phil’s left in the world, and it remains important today to ‘look under the hood’ of characters like that to ‘see what their struggle is and why they are there in the first place’. 

Then referencing Sam’s comments, Benedict continued: “I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here.

“Without meaning to stir over the ashes of that […] someone really took offence to – I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it – to the West being portrayed in this way.

“These people still exist in our world” Benedict explained. “ Whether it’s on our doorstep or whether it’s down the road or whether it’s someone we meet in a bar or pub or on the sports field, there is aggression and anger and frustration and an inability to control or know who you are in that moment that causes damage to that person and, as we know, damage to those around them.”

The Power of the Dog is currently up for eight BAFTA Prizes, including Best Film and Leading Actor for Benedict. 

His co-stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons are both in the running for Supporting Actor. 

The Power of the Dog is available to stream on Netflix now.