‘The Power of the Dog’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch Describes ‘Profound Experience’ on Horseback

by Madison Miller

Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his roles in profound dramatic films, is saddling up for an upcoming Western-drama film called “The Power of the Dog.”

The movie has a limited release in the U.S. on November 17 and will be available to stream worldwide on Netflix starting on December 1. The movie is written and directed by Jane Campion and is based on the novel written by Thomas Savage.

Benedict Cumberbatch Talks ‘Power of the Dog’ Cowboy Skills

The psychological drama stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Thomasin McKenzie. The movie follows rancher Phil Burbank, a powerful person that can inspire fear in others. Suddenly his brother brings home a new wife as well as her son. Phil starts to torment both of them, but soon switches his torment after being exposed to love. The movie also showcases his character as a bully and shows the effects of toxic masculinity.

For Cumberbatch, he got a new experience as the leading man in a Western. “Working with animals and just having the most profound experiences on horseback driving cattle across this beautiful landscape …” he said regarding his experience on the film during an interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Clearly, “The Power of the Dog” taught the power of the horse.

His role as a gay Montana cattle rancher in the 1920s is actually getting a fair amount of Oscar buzz already. For Cumberbatch, it was a way to really dig into life as a real working cowboy. From horseback riding to whistling to roping to rolling up a smoke, the skills on “The Power of the Dog” were infinite.

He was asked during an interview with CBS News if he embraced the smell of a real working cowboy. Basically, he was asked if he showered at all while filming. “Yeah. I mean, not for the whole shoot. That would be kind of dangerous, I think!” I might have become a biohazard. But for a whole week and a bit at the beginning of the shoot, at the beginning of rehearsals, rather, I did, yeah,” Cumberbatch revealed.

Most Difficult Part of Filming

Between riding horses, being a macho cowboy, and other difficult scenes in “The Power of the Dog,” Benedict Cumberbatch said that pretending to play the banjo was the hardest part.

He called pretending to play the banjo “painful.”

“[My character] is someone who has done it all their life, and I’m trying to master it in four weeks or something stupid. That’s tough,” Cumberbatch said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Although he’s learned a few things about playing, Cumberbatch said he’s far from knowing much about the instrument. Another difficult experience was learning to roll cigarettes by hand. He actually gave himself nicotine poisoning three times after smoking too much take-after-take.