Benedict Cumberbatch is not a fan of Sam Elliott’s very odd takes

The Oscar-nominated star of ‘The Power of the Dog’ responded to Elliott’s recent homophobic criticism of the film.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 05: Benedict Cumberbatch speaks onstage during the 26th annual Art D...
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Benedict Cumberbatch has responded to the Sam Elliott shade. In a recent panel for the BAFTA Awards, for which Cumberbatch is nominated for Leading Actor, the star of Netflix’s acclaimed Western, The Power of the Dog, alluded to Elliott’s recent head-scratching and homophobic comments about the film.

“I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here without meaning to stir up the ashes of that,” Cumberbatch said, referencing Elliott’s sharp take on comedian Marc Maron’s podcast. “Somebody really took offense to — I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it — the West being portrayed in this way. And beyond that reaction — that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a hetero-normative 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, towards an acceptance of the other, of any kind of difference, and no more so I guess than in this prism of conformity of what’s expected of a man in the Western archetype mold of masculinity.”

While not directly naming him, Cumberbatch’s words took direct aim at Elliott, who bluntly called The Power of the Dog a “piece of shit.” Elliott, the 77-year old Sacramento native who is most known for his roles in Westerns, took issue with the film’s exploration of sexuality; how the cowboys in the film looked, to him, like the Chippendales; and the fact that its director, Jane Campion, who was nominated for a Best Director Oscar (making history as the first woman director to ever be nominated twice), was not from the American West.

“They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts,” Elliott had said with disdain on the podcast last week. “There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie. What the fuck does this woman — she’s a brilliant director, by the way, I love her work, previous work — but what the fuck does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West?”

Yet, as Cumberbatch noted, what viewers of The Power of the Dog — which is nominated for 12 Oscars, including one for Cumberbatch’s lead role as Phil Burbank — have found powerful is, in fact, its incisive interrogation of masculinity and repressed desire on the American frontier.

“There’s no harm in looking at a character to get to the root causes of that,” Cumberbatch added on the panel. “This is a very specific case of repression, but also due to an intolerance for that true identity that Phil is that he can’t fully be. The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”