Sam Elliott Apologizes For Shredding ‘The Power Of The Dog’: “I Wasn’t Very Articulate About It… I Feel Terrible”

Sam Elliott 1883

Sam Elliott made headlines a couple weeks back when he tore into leading Oscar nominee, The Power Of The Dog, calling the movie a “piece of shit.”

And when I say tore into, I mean… he ripped it to pieces.

The 1883 star recently sat down with Marc Maron for an episode of his WTF Podcast, and when they got to talking about the Academy Awards movies, Sam wasted no time telling Marc how much he hated it.

“You wanna talk about that piece of shit? Fuck no… I didn’t like it and I’ll tell ya why.

I didn’t like it anyway, but I looked at it when I was down there in Texas doing 1883, and what really brought it home was there was a fuckin’ full page out in the LA Times and there was a clip and it talked about the evisceration of the American myth.

And I thought, ‘what the fuck… what the fuck? This is a guy that’s done Westerns forever.’ The evisceration of the American West, I mean they made it look like… what are those dancers that wear bowties and not much else?”

To which, Marc said, “Oh, the Chippendales?”

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

And in addition to filming the movie in New Zealand and calling it Montana (it looked a little odd to me, but whatever), Sam Elliott was also critical of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, the lead cowboy on the ranch, Phil Burbank.

“I mean, Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps. He had two pair of chaps… a wooly pair and a leather pair, and every time he’d walk in from somewhere, I don’t know where because he never was on a horse.

He walk into the fucking house, storm up the fucking stairs, go lay in bed in his chaps and play his banjo.

What the fuck? What the fuck? Where’s the Western in this Western? I took it personal, I took it fucking personal, pal.”

Based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, and directed by Jane Campion, The Power Of The Dog is billed as a western psychological drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

While CODA ended up winning Best Picture, Jane did take home the Oscar for Best Director, but either way, The Power of the Dog was a big fan favorite.

The media was quick to call out Elliott as homophobic and sexist for his comments, and Twitter piled on as well, but I suppose a veteran Western actor like Elliott is entitled to his opinion.

Personally, I thought the movie was incredibly slow, and as I mentioned before, the setting definitely didn’t look like the American West at all, but to me it wasn’t a terrible movie.

I don’t know if it should have received 12 Oscar nominations, but hey, I’m not a movie critic…

Anyways, Sam Elliott has now issued a formal apology.

According to Deadline, 

“I told the WTF podcaster that I thought Jane Campion was a brilliant director, and I want to apologize to the cast of The Power of the Dog, brilliant actors all.

And in particular Benedict Cumberbatch. I can only say that I’m sorry and I am. I am.

I wasn’t very articulate about it. I didn’t articulate it very well. And I said some things that hurt people and I feel terrible about that.

The gay community has been incredible to me my entire career. And I mean my entire career, from before I got started in this town. Friends on every level and every job description up until today.

I’m sorry I hurt any of those friends and someone that I loved. And anyone else by the words that I used.”

Watch the trailer below:

Benedict Cumberbatch Responds

Benedict Cumberbatch himself has responded to Sam Elliott’s critique, speaking during a BAFTA’s Film Sessions with fellow BAFTA Award nominee Stephen Graham last week, but rather than coming after Sam personally, he explained why he felt as though characters like Phil Burbank should be explored:

“If  we’re are to teach our sons to be feminists, if we’re to teach equality, if we’re to understand what poisons the world and what creates toxic masculinity, we need to look under the hood of characters like Phil Burbank to see what their struggle is and why that’s there in the first place.

I think we also have to look at the root cause of the behavior that these people have suffered from… I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here.

Without meaning to stir over the ashes of that, I won’t get into the details but someone really took offense to…  I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it… really took offense to the West being portrayed in this way.

And beyond that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a heteronormative existence… there’s also a massive intolerance of homosexuality in the world at large.”

But more so than just his character, Benedict points to evil men like Vladimir Putin as an example:

“These people still exist in our world. Whether it’s on our doorstep or whether it’s down the road or whether it’s someone we meet in a bar or pub or on the sports field, there is aggression and anger and frustration and an inability to control or know who you are in that moment that causes damage to that person and, as we know, damage to those around them. 

There’s no harm in looking at a character to get to the root causes of that. This is a very specific case of repression, but also due to an intolerance for that true identity that Phil is that he can’t fully be.

The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”

You can watch the full reaction below:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock