Power of the Dog’s Jane Campion calls Sam Elliott a ‘b***h’ after rant over film’s gay themes

Power of the Dog director Jane Campion attends the Critics Choice Awards wearing a dark blue velvet outfit

Filmmaker Jane Campion has responded to Sam Elliott’s criticism of her film The Power of the Dog, calling him “sexist” and a “bit of a b***h”. 

Elliot, an actor famous for his portrayals in western films, criticised The Power of the Dog for its depiction of cowboys and “allusions of homosexuality”. He also compared the cowboys in the film to Chippendales dancers “running around in chaps and no shirts”. 

Campion didn’t hold back when asked about her response to Elliott’s comments while at the Directors Guild of America awards on Saturday (12 March). She told Variety before the ceremony that Elliot was “being a little bit of a b***h” for his comments directed at her 12-time Oscar-nominated western. 

“He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,” Campion said. “The West is a mythic space, and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.”

She noted that a “number of amazing westerns” were made outside the US, specifically mentioning some films “made in Spain by Sergio Leone”. Campion added that she sees herself as a “creator” and thought Elliott might only picture her as a “woman or something lesser first”. 

“I don’t appreciate that,” Campion said. 

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Phil Burbank in The Power of the Dog, also responded to Elliott’s criticism, calling it a “very odd reaction”. 

Speaking during the BAFTA’s Film Sessions, Cumberbatch explained it was important to highlight characters like Burbank to “look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it”. 

“These people still exist in our world,” Cumberbatch said. 

“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.”

Jane Campion has apologised to Venus and Serena Williams following a “thoughtless” comment she made about tennis legends during her acceptance speech for best director at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday (13 March). 

The Power of the Dog director called the Williams sisters “such marvels” before claiming they “do not play against the guys like I have to”. 

Campion’s comments sparked fierce outcry on social media as the Williams sisters have faced down men in the tennis court and have won several mixed doubles matches

The director has since apologised for her comments in a lengthy statement posted on Deadline

“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved,” Campion wrote. “I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes.”

Campion acknowledged that both women have “raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world”. She said the “last thing” she wanted to do was “minimise remarkable women” like the Williams sisters. 

“Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring,” Campion added. “Serena and Venus, I apologise and completely celebrate you.”