The Power of the Dog, on Netflix since December 1st, intrigues the public for its plastic beauty, the incredible performance of Benedict Cumberbatch and its enigmatic ending… But Jane Campion’s film contains unusual information!
In the United States, this is called “method acting” and it amounts to literally blending into a character. Jane Campion asked Benedict Cumberbatch to use this technique to play Phil Burbank in The Power of the Dog. More precisely, she asked him not to leave his character during the whole filming. He took her advice so well that he didn’t shower for SIX days to get ready for the role.
“I wanted that layer of stench on me“, he explains in an interview with Esquire. “I wanted people in the room to know what I was feeling. It was tough, however. It wasn’t just during rehearsals. I was going to eat out and meet Jane’s friends and things.“
The crew were told it wouldn’t be very pleasant during the shoot… A “fascinating” process for Kodi Smit-McPhee who shared with Benedict Cumberbatch some of the film’s most intense scenes. The English actor, despite being known for his friendliness, went so far as to refuse to speak to Kirsten Dunst the entire time they were on set together. That is to say…
He also learned to play the banjo, to roll a cigarette with one hand and to castrate a bull … Like his character, he was hostile towards the members of the team, refusing for example the choices of guard. dress. Nevertheless, he became himself again when he spent the evenings with his family.
This intense involvement in his character has led Benedict Cumberbatch to nicotine poisoning! Indeed, the character of Phil Burbank is described in Thomas Savage’s novel as always having a cigarette in his hand or in his mouth.
Benedict Cumberbatch has therefore scrupulously followed Phil’s example by smoking cigarette after cigarette. Rolls without filter. The actor spoke about it in the pages of Esquire: “It was really hard. When you have to smoke a lot, it’s really horrible.“So much so that he poisoned himself with nicotine on three occasions!
Fortunately, he didn’t push the vice so far as to poison himself with anthrax like Phil, as we explain in a decryption devoted to the end of the film.
Paul Newman wanted to adapt Thomas Savage’s novel
During an audience meeting, Jane Campion and Benedict Cumberbatch said Paul Newman tried to adapt The Power of the Dog before them. “The book had almost been adapted five times“said the director. “And Paul Newman was in the line at one point“report Deadline.
According to IndieWire, Gérard Depardieu would also have wanted to rub shoulders with Phil Burbank. The fact that this adaptation failed five times did not demotivate the New Zealand director, however. She managed to convince Canadian producer Roger Frappier, who had already acquired the rights, to choose her over someone else. “It’s kind of a post-western and nobody has a gun“she enthuses, describing the film.