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Benedict Cumberbatch experienced self-inflicted nicotine poisoning on ‘The Power Of The Dog’ set

The star suffered for his art filming 'The Power of the Dog'

By Joe Goggins

Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Power of the Dog'.
Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Power of the Dog'(Photo: YouTube)

Benedict Cumberbatch has revealed he suffered from three bouts of nicotine poisoning whilst shooting his latest film.

The 45-year-old told Esquire UK that he smoked filterless cigarettes to help him get into character for his Oscar-tipped turn in Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’, a slow-burning western in which he plays cattle rancher Phil Burbank, an avowedly macho figure who at one point claims “I stink and I like it.”

Speaking of the process of enveloping himself in his character’s scent, Cumberbatch said: “I wanted people in the room to know what I smelt like.” Director Campion had him hand-roll his own cigarettes on set, “[which was] really hard,” he said. “Filterless rollies, just take after take after take. I gave myself nicotine poisoning three times. When you have to smoke a lot, it genuinely is horrible.”

Cumberbatch’s adoption of Burbank’s “layer of stink”, meanwhile, may have proved too successful, as it followed him even when the cameras weren’t rolling in Campion’s native New Zealand. “It wasn’t just in rehearsals. I was going out to eat and meet friends of Jane and stuff. I was a bit embarrassed by the cleaner, in the place I was living.”

‘The Power of the Dog’, which also stars Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, is the first film from Oscar winner Campion since 2009’s ‘Bright Star’, and is among the early frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscar at next year’s Academy Awards. It is released on Netflix on December 1st, after a limited UK cinema release from November 19th.