Power of the Dog, The: Sam Elliott Slams the Film’s Portrait of Cowboys and Allusions to Homosexuality

Sam Elliott: ‘Power of the Dog’ is ‘Piece of S—,’ Criticizes ‘Allusions of Homosexuality’

Sam Elliot
Everett Collection

Sam Elliott railed against Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog during visit to Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast (via Insider).

Campion’s drama is nominated for 12 Oscars, more than any film this year.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as a sadistic rancher who makes life hell for his new sister-in-law and her son in 1925 Montana. Elliott called the film a “piece of shit” and seemed bothered by how the film deconstructs classic Western archetypes such as cowboys. Elliott compared Campion’s cowboys to Chippendale dancers who “wear bow ties and not much else.”

“That’s what all these fucking cowboys in that movie looked like,” Elliott said. “They’re running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie.”

Cumberbatch’s character is a closeted gay man in the film. Maron told Elliott that these themes are “what the movie is about,” but Elliott remained critical of Campion’s approach to the Western genre. Elliott has starred in several Western projects throughout his career, including the recent Paramount Plus “Yellowstone” prequel series “1883.”

“Where’s the Western in this Western?” Elliott asked. “I mean, Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps. He had two pairs of chaps — a woolly pair and a leather pair. And every fucking time he would walk in from somewhere — he never was on a horse, maybe once — he’d walk into the fucking house, storm up the fucking stairs, go lay in his bed in his chaps and play his banjo. It’s like, what the fuck?”

Elliott said of Campion, “What the fuck does this woman from down there know about the American West? Why the fuck did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That fucking rubbed me the wrong way.”

Elliott, who earned an Oscar nomination a few years back for his performance in “A Star Is Born,” added, “I just came from Texas where I was hanging out with families — not men — but families. Big, long, extended, multiple-generation families that made their living and their lives were all about being cowboys. And boy, when I fucking saw that movie, I thought, ‘What the fuck? Where are we in this world today?’”

Elliott, who has appeared in many Westerns, is known for his distinctive lanky physique, full mustache, and deep, resonant voice.

The Power of the Dog is nominated for best picture and best director.

Elliott did call Campion a “brilliant” filmmaker, despite not agreeing with her overall approach to the genre. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.