Benedict Cumberbatch breaks silence after Sam Elliott’s rant over Power of the Dog’s gay themes

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch and actor Sam Elliott

Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken out after 1883 star Sam Elliott has called the star’s Oscar-nominated The Power of the Dog a “piece of s**t”.

Elliott, a legend of the western genre, made headlines last week after he slated the film citing its depiction of cowboys and “allusions of homosexuality”.

Speaking as part of BAFTA’s Film Sessions on 4 March, Cumberbatch partly addressed the actor’s comments when he spoke about why it’s relevant to explore a character like Phil Burbank in film.

The Sherlock star began by explaining there are so many [Phil Burbanks] in the world and in order to deal with issues of toxic masculinity, we must “look under the hood” of characters like [him] to “see what their struggle is and why that’s there in the first place”.


Kodi Smit-McPhee as Peter and Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in The Power of The Dog (Netflix/Kirsty Griffin)

“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,” the Doctor Strange actor said. “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.”

The 45-year-old continued: “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. ”

Swinging back round to his original answer, Cumberbatch concluded: “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.

“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.”

Actor Sam Elliott calls The Power of the Dog a 'piece of s***'

Actor Sam Elliott called The Power of the Dog a ‘piece of s***’ (Greg Doherty/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas)

Speaking on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, Elliott revealed his issues with the film as he compared the cowboys in The Power of the Dog to Chippendales who “wear bowties and not much else”.

“That’s what all these f**king cowboys in that movie looked like,” he added. “They’re running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie.”

In The Power of the Dog, it is heavily implied that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character is closeted, and he shares intense chemistry with another man.

Objecting to Cumberbatch’s wardrobe, he continued: “He had two pairs of chaps – a woolly pair and a leather pair. And every f**king time he would walk in from somewhere – he never was on a horse – he’d walk in to the f**king house, storm up the f**king stairs, go lay in his bed, in his chaps and play the banjo.”

Sam Elliott also questioned why director Jane Campion had made the film.

“What the f**k does this woman from down there [Campion, who is from New Zealand] know about the American west?” he said. “Why the f**k did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was?” He did, however, call Campion a “brilliant director”.

Elliott then complained about “the myth is that [cowboys] were these macho men out there with cattle”.

He said: “I just came from Texas where I was hanging out with families – not men – but families. Big, long, extended, multiple-generation families that made their livings…

“Their lives were all about being about cowboys. And boy, when I f**king saw that (movie), I thought, ‘What the f**k.'”