During his BAFTA Film Session on Friday, The Power Of The Dog star Benedict Cumberbatch took a moment to comment on someone’s vitriolic response to the feature (of course, that someone being Yellowstone star Sam Elliott).
Elliott courted controversy last week when he called The Power Of The Dog a “piece of shit” with “all these allusions to homosexuality,” during an interview on Marc Maron’s “WTF” Podcast. The Sacramento native then went on to ask what Jane Campion (who is from New Zealand) could possibly know about the American West. He phrased his remarks in a way that only made him look like a roaring sexist.
“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,” Cumberbatch said about Elliott’s interview.
Cumberbatch continued, “Without meaning to stir over the ashes of that […] someone really took offense 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.”
In the session, Cumberbatch went on to explain how the story and his character Phil Burbank represent very real things in our lives. He also notes that people like Burbank did actually exist back during the time period in which the film and novel are set, and similar people continue to exist today.
“These people still exist in our world. 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,” Cumberbatch said.
“There’s no harm in looking at a character to get to the root causes of that. This is a very specific case of repression, but also due to an intolerance for that true identity that Phil is that he can’t fully be,” Cumberbatch added. “The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”
Campion’s The Power Of The Dog is most Oscar-nominated feature of this year, with Cumberbatch himself competing in the Best Lead Actor category for his performance of Burbank.