Benedict Cumberbatch is currently one of the biggest names for the upcoming awards season thanks to his acclaimed role as sadist Phil Burbank in The Power of the Dog, the new film by Jane Campion. The Brit has admitted that, in order to prepare the part, he learned how to castrate a bull and play the banjo.
In addition, he decided not to speak to his partner Kirsten Dunst on the set and chose not to bathe to carry his character’s dirt all the time. He was so methodical in his preparation that it nearly cost him his health. As the actor has now confessed, he suffered nicotine poisoning on three occasions due to the amount of cigarettes he smoked in Phil’s shoes.
In the Thomas Savage book on which the film is based, smoking is one of the main characteristics of Phil, who rolls cigarettes with one hand. In an interview for Esquire, Cumberbatch referred to his incident with nicotine: “I gave myself nicotine poisoning three times. When you have to smoke a lot, it genuinely is horrible.”
Be that as it may, the actor is proud to have been able to work with Campion, the reason why he accepted the project. The cast moved to New Zealand three weeks before filming began so that everyone could rehearse, although Cumberbatch had already been training for the film in Montana. “It’s such a big step for him. It’s a fantastic demonstration of his capacity and his courage,” Campion said about the actor’s performance.