Variety reports on Benedict Cumberbatch’s thoughts on Sam Elliots remarks regarding his gay character in The Power of the Dog. In an interview on Marc Maron’s “WTF’ podcast Elliot expressed negative sentiment towards the film specifically pointing out “allusions of homosexuality” when describing the characters in the film as “not real cowboys.” The western genre is often regarded as a genre that is filled with hyper-masculine characters. Elliot is an actor who is often typecast as a masculine figure, such as his recent role in the Paramount plus series 1883 where Elliot plays a former Civil War army captain.
Cumberbatch weighs in on what Elliot had to say about the film. Cumberbatch states, “Beyond that reaction, that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a heteronormative existence because of what they do for a living or where they’re born, there’s also a massive intolerance within the world at large towards homosexuality still and toward an acceptance of the other and anything kind of difference, no more so than in this prism of conformity of what’s expected of a man in the Western archetype mold of masculinity.”
The film as a whole serves as a deconstruction of western tropes, especially in terms of masculinity. Cumberbatch’s character, Phil Burbank, hides his sexuality in the film and this causes him to lash out at the people around him, most notably regarding his sister-in-law’s son as “effeminate.” The Power of the Dog was written and directed by Jane Campion. The film is nominated for 12 academy awards, making it the film with the most nominations this year.