The new Western film, The Power of the Dog, has a lot of people talking. It’s been widely streamed, nominated for a dozen Academy Awards and sparked a lot of online discussion.
However, not all of that discussion has been positive.
As reported previously, Sam Elliott, who has acted in a number of Western films, derided The Power of the Dog, calling it a “piece of sh*t" and took extreme exception to any "allusions of homosexuality" being in a Western. Elliott made his targeted remarks during an inappearance on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron.
Despite these seemingly homophobic criticisms by Elliott, when the film's star Kodi Smit-McPhee was asked to reply, he had a different response than his costar, Benedict Cumberbatch.
You can see Smit-McPhee's reply below.
Smit-McPhee was asked about Elliott’s comments on the film including his thoughts about the themes of the story and questioning if director Jane Campion had the right to make an American Western.
When asked what he wanted to say in response, Smit-McPhee said:
“Nothing. ‘Cause I’m a mature being and I’m passionate about what I do. And I don’t really give energy to anything outside of that.”
“Good luck to him.”
In The Power of the Dog, Kodi Smit-McPhee acts alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst.
The psychological drama examines Cumberbatch’s wealthy ranch owner character’s interactions with his brother’s new wife’s son, played by Smit-McPhee, while exploring both toxic masculinity and internalized homophobia.
The film is directed by Jane Campion, a New Zealand director, who also chose to film the movie in that country because of issues caused by the pandemic. This led to one of Elliott’s criticisms about the inauthenticity of the film.
However, Spaghetti Westerns—the vehicle that launched Clint Eastwood's film Western careeer—were filmed in Europe and produced by Italians. So the idea of a Western being made by someone who isn’t American and filmed outside of the country isn’t exactly unheard of.
The bigger criticism Elliott had was the “allusions of homosexuality” that permeated the film. However, that was literally the point of the film and the book it was based on, along with confronting traits of toxic masculinity.
Sam Elliott is entitled to his opinion, but others are entitled to their thoughts about that opinion too.
Smit-McPhee wasn’t the only one to address Elliott’s comments.
While the young actor was asked directly about the criticism, Benedict Cumberbatch brought up the controversy while interviewed for the British Academy of Film And Television Awards (BAFTA).
He never mentioned Elliott by name, but it was clear he was addressing him when he emphasized the intolerance towards homosexuality that still exists in our world.