Benedict Cumberbatch reports using ranching skills learned from his experience method acting on the set of Jane Campion’s Power of the Dog. Cumberbatch reflects on the story during an interview on BBC’s Graham Norton Show. After wrapping on set, Cumberbatch spent time on a beach in the UK when he found his newfound skills coming in handy.
“I came back from shooting the film in August, and we were off to the beach,” Cumberbatch says. “To get there, we had to cross a field and in the field was a petrified family who just couldn’t move, they were frozen because of a herd of cows with calves. I thought ‘I can do this,’ and I just sort of parted the waves of cattle.”
The grateful family thanked Cumberbatch for his help noting “It was very un-Sherlock activity” for him, referencing his iconic role on BBC One’s 2010 show, Sherlock.
Power of the Dog is centered around the life and family of ranch handler Phil Burbank, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. The film can be watched on Netflix and debuted in November 2021.
Cumberbatch attributes his ability to help in this situation to director Jane Campion’s emphasis on method acting for this role, even introducing him to the crew as Phil.
“Jane encouraged me to stay in character,” Cumberbatch notes. “She was very secure about all the things I was insecure about and said, ‘Do whatever you have to do to feel ownership of this very different lived experience.'”
Therefore, Cumberbatch lived on a remote Montana ranch to experience his character’s life, often not washing for up to six days just as Phil would. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead wrote the score for this film, and Cumberbatch notes exclusively listening to his music throughout production.
Cumberbatch has secured his second Oscar nomination for his work on the film, with a total of twelve nominations coming in for Campion’s first film in over a decade.