Benedict Cumberbatch has come out in defense of The Power of the Dog, following actor Sam Elliott’s fiery comments about the new Netflix drama.
Elliott recently criticized the Oscar-nominated psychodrama, which follows a closeted gay rancher battling his own toxic masculinity, while appearing as a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.
During the chat, he called out director Jane Campion for shooting the Montana-set movie in New Zealand, questioned her familiarity with the American West, branded the film “a piece of shit”, and likened some of its characters to Chippendale dancers (“They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie”).
Now Cumberbatch, who is up for the Best Actor accolade at this year’s Academy Awards for his performance as cowboy Phil Burbank, has addressed Elliott’s disapproval, arguing: “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.”
During the BAFTA Film Sessions on March 4, the Doctor Strange star went on to say that, while he hasn’t personally listened to Elliott’s “very odd” takedown yet, “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.”
He concluded: “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.”
Available to stream on Netflix now, The Power of the Dog also stars Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons, and Kirsten Dunst, and is up for 11 Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture. While we wait to see how many gongs it picks up on the night, check out our breakdown of the best Netflix movies.