‘The Power of the Dog’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch Went to Montana to Learn Life of a Rancher

by Leanne Stahulak

“The Power of the Dog,” a thrilling Western drama from Academy Award winner Jane Campion, hits theatres in just a few days.

To promote the film, star Benedict Cumberbatch sat down with Jimmy Kimmel on his late-night show to talk all about Netflix’s new “brutal psychodrama.” In the film, Cumberbatch stars as rancher Phil Burbank, who’s determined to make life a living hell for his new sister-in-law and her son. It takes place in Montana in 1925, featuring several references to ranching life a century ago.

Although “The Power of the Dog” was shot in New Zealand, Cumberbatch told Kimmel how he actually went to Montana to learn how to be a rancher.

“I went to ‘Dude Camp,'” Cumberbatch explained. “I kinda went there to learn the life of a rancher, because my fellow does a lot of stuff. He’s adept with knife castration, he does braiding and roping, he does whittling and whistling. Rolling cigarettes with one hand, all the hard stuff. I learned a lot of things.”

Kimmel couldn’t believe that Cumberbatch actually learned how to turn a skin hide from an animal into the kind of rope used for rodeoing. Though Cumberbatch confessed he worked with an “expert” on that particular skill.

“I was there for about three weeks, and I met some folks from two incredible ranches. And I hung out with Randy, who with his wife Jen, put me up in their house. And we just drove around that state and met some extraordinary people whose livelihoods I was trying to authenticate in my character.”

“The Power of the Dog” star said there was no skill or trick that he turned down learning about.

“I needed all of it,” Cumberbatch confessed. “[Randy’s] even a brilliant musician. Not that I play the guitar in the film, I play the banjo. But even that was helpful. So yeah, there’s nothing I shied away from him teaching me.”

What Can We Expect From ‘The Power of the Dog?’

Netflix recently released a new trailer for “The Power of the Dog,” which also stars Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Jesse Plemons. The film will run in theaters for only a limited time, starting Nov. 17. Later, on Dec. 1, fans can stream it on Netflix.

The trailer shows the fractured relationship between Cumberbatch’s character Phil Burbank and Dunst’s character Rose Gordon. Phil consistently targets Rose’s son, Peter, to try and drive them out of his life. He seems to take perverse pleasure from the horrible things he does to the duo. Cumberbatch even did method acting to more fully sink into his character.

The film already made a film festival circuit and picked up several awards, including Best Director from the Venice Film Festival. Broader audiences will finally be able to see it in theaters later this week.