Not a fan. The Power of the Dog may be a critically acclaimed film — and nominated for 12 Academy Awards — but Sam Elliott has major issues with how the cowboys are portrayed.
“They’re running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie,” Elliott, 77, said during an episode of Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast on Monday, February 28, referring to the men as Chippendale dancers who “wear bow ties and not much else.”
The California native, who called the film a “piece of s–t,” also questioned whether there were any Western themes in The Power of the Dog.
“Cumberbatch never got out of his f–king chaps. He had two pairs of chaps: a woolly pair and a leather pair,” he pointed out, referring to Benedict Cumberbatch. “Every f–king time he would walk in from somewhere — he never was on a horse, maybe once — he’d walk into the f–king house, storm up the f–king stairs, go lay in his bed in his chaps, and play his banjo. It’s like, what the f–k?”
For Elliott, the biggest problem was director Jane Campion‘s choice to recreate the state of Montana in her native New Zealand.
“What the f–k does this woman from down there know about the American West?” he asked, noting that Campion, 67, was a “brilliant” director in the past. “Why the f–k did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That f–king rubbed me the wrong way.”
The Golden Globe nominee compared the cowboy depictions to his own experience shooting Paramount’s Yellowstone prequel 1883, adding, “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 living and their lives were all about being cowboys. And boy, when I f–king saw that [movie], I thought, ‘What the f–k? Where are we in this world today?’”
The Power of the Dog, which is based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, tells the story of a rancher (Cumberbatch) who responds negatively to his brother (Jesse Plemons) bringing home a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee).
Cumberbatch, 45, previously praised the way that Campion depicted the story from script to screen.
“Sometimes you worry the director is looking from a very specific angle and maybe a better take or different take has been overlooked because of what they’re prioritizing. But everything about this project felt very in sync with Jane and her process,” he told The Guardian in December 2021. “In the rawest form of just building the character as well, I felt as if I was doing it alongside her in pre-production.”
The Marvel actor recalled the hard work that went into addressing themes such as toxic masculinity and sexuality. “We had an equal love and need to carefully create this character from the page to the screen. We understood the complexity of a man whose monstrous behavior masks a deep well of pain — a scar needed to be understood in order to be inhabited,” he added at the time. “I’d never had that long in the company of a director doing the same sort of things to get to a character. I don’t know if she always works like that but it just felt like I was going on a journey with a friend.”