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Benedict Cumberbatch responds to Sam Elliot’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ criticism

"These people still exist in our world"

By Hollie Geraghty

Benedict Cumberbatch smoking in a still from 'The Power of the Dog' next to a picture of Sam Elliot on a talk show
Benedict Cumberbatch has responded to Sam Elliot's criticism. (Pictures: YouTube).

Benedict Cumberbatch has responded to Sam Elliot’s criticism of ‘The Power of the Dog’, after the actor described the film as a “piece of shit’.

Speaking on Marc Maron’s ‘WTF’ podcast last week, Elliot criticised Jane Campion’s multi-Oscar nominated western about rancher Phil Burbank who struggles with his sexuality and masculinity.

“They’re running around in chaps and no shirts,” Elliot said. “There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie.”

Speaking at Bafta’s Film Sessions event on Friday (March 4), Cumberbatch was asked about the importance of exploring a character like Burbank.

He said that there are “so many” Phil Burbanks in the world, and that it’s important to “look under the hood” to “see what their struggle is and why they’re there in the first place”.

He added that he was “trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction” on a podcast.

“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.”

Elliot had also asked what New Zealand born Jane Campion “knows about the American West”.

Cumberbatch continued that “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.”

He 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.”

The ‘Sherlock’ actor is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for the film, which has received a total of 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (twice in the same category), and Best Actress.

Cumberbatch last year revealed that he suffered three bouts of nicotine poisoning while shooting the film.

The actor told Esquire UK that he smoked filterless cigarettes to help him get into character. “I wanted people in the room to know what I smelt like,” he said. Director Campion also had him hand-roll his own cigarettes on set. “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.”