“We need to correct the behavior of men,” Benedict Cumberbatch told Sky News. “You have to lift the hood a little.”
The Oscar-nominated actor, best known for TV series such as Sherlock and Patrick Melrose, as well as for his role as Doctor Strange in Marvel Universe, discusses toxic masculinity, a theme running through his latest film, Power Of The Dog.
An adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel set in 1920s Montana, Cumberbatch impersonates Phil Burbank, a masochistic breeder who internally suppresses his desires while externally intimidating people close to him, including his brother’s young wife (played by Kirsten Dunst).
Perhaps most surprising is that this interpretation of masculinity is from a director best known for his narrative of the female experience – Oscar-winning director Jane Cambion, best known for films such as The Piano, Portrait Of A Lady, and the Bright Star. Power Of The Dog is her first feature film in 12 years and also her first male protagonist.
“She was always a heroine of mine,” says Cumberbatch. “The piano was a seismic movie when I was growing up, for me, and I just fell completely into its spells.
“She’s just a great director and she needs sensitivity and sensitivity in it to really crack Filippos, you could not imagine a better director for that.”
Although the film is set a century ago, Cumberbatch believes that exploring masculinity is just as important today.
“You have this kind of rebellion [from men today]”This denial, this kind of childish defensive stance of ‘not all men are bad’, but no, we just have to shut up and listen,” he says.
“There is not enough recognition of abuse, there is not enough recognition of disadvantages and, at the same time, somewhere on the line – maybe not now, but somewhere on the line – we should probably do what the film does, which looks at the reason behind the oppressive behavior “.
It has been almost 30 years since Campion first won the famous Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival for The Piano. At the time, many predicted that it would pave the way for other women filmmakers to follow her, but only now, after MeToo, do we finally see more women being invited to direct major feature films.
“It feels like a painfully long road compared to where it started,” Cumberbatch admits. “But … it has inspired people all the way.
“It’s like mental health, you know, these things are still a stigma. There’s still something we have to talk about, discuss, write, help, and until there’s equal pay, a place at the table, equality. “All over the world, councils of all kinds, we still have to have this debate.”
Cambion used some unconventional methods to help Cumberbatch gain character, including hiring someone to do what he describes as “deep work” using dreams.
“Apart from Jane’s book and screenplay, together we did a dream analysis, which is like pouring a little oil into the water of your subconscious to push things from the depths and see what is in the deepest parts of your soul. , to see what you can do to connect with the character. It’s amazing, it’s dark and it’s wonderful. “
It is an enjoyable interpretation that Campion derives from the actor and that definitely required him to do the above mile.
Cumberbatch was “so alive” in his character that he suffered from nicotine poisoning three times from smoking so much on set. He also had to learn how to play banjo and, most horribly, castrate bulls.
Acting method that requires a strong stomach – but can only pay off after the awards season.
Power Of The Dog is now available in theaters and on Netflix in the UK from 1 December
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