“You wanna talk about that piece of s–t?”
That’s how veteran actor Sam Elliott responded when podcast host Marc Maron brought up the critically acclaimed Oscar contender “The Power of the Dog” during a recent appearance on Maron’s “WTF” podcast, kicking off a rant in which Elliott laid out how the film’s subversion of the Western genre and homosexual themes “rubbed me the wrong way,” as he put it.
“I didn’t like it anyway,” Elliott began. “I looked at it when I was down in Texas doing ‘1883,’ and what really brought it home to me the other day… there was a full-page ad in the LA Times and there was a [clip] and it talked about ‘the evisceration of the American myth,’ and I thought, ‘What the f—k? What the f—k?’ This is the guy that’s done Westerns forever. The evisceration of the American West, they look like, what are all those dancers in New York that wear bowties and not much else? Remember them from back in the day? That’s what all these f—kin’ cowboys in that movie looked like. They’re all runnin’ around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the f—kin’ movie.”
“Yeah, I think that’s what the movie’s about,” Maron responded pointedly.
The Netflix drama from filmmaker Jane Campion examines the American Western and masculinity through a different lens, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing a conflicted and closeted cowboy. Through his point of view, each fellow cowboy is a temptation, a fact that Maron noted is exactly why some of the characters are seen as sex objects.
Elliott continued airing his grievances, taking aim at New Zealand-born director Jane Campion for her portrayal of the American West and her decision to shoot the film in her native country.
“Jane Campion. She’s a brilliant director, by the way. I love her previous work. But what the f—k does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West?,” Elliott added. “And why in the f—k does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, ‘This is the way it was?’ So that f—kin’ rubbed me the wrong way pal.”
The “Tombstone” actor brought his argument back to comparing the film to his own experience with cowboys. “And the myth is that they were these macho men out there with the cattle. I’d just come from f—kin’ 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 f—kin saw that I thought, ‘What the f—k? Where are we in this world today?’”
Maron interjected, saying, “I don’t know that that’s the biggest issue at hand,” but Elliott pushed back saying, “For me it was the only issue, because there was so much of it.”
The argument petered out with Elliott asking, “Where’s the Western in this Western?” as he seems to have missed the point that Campion’s film is a subversion of Western tropes. “I took it f—kin’ personal, pal,” Elliott concluded with a chuckle.
You can listen to the full conversation here. “The Power of the Dog” is currently streaming on Netflix and is nominated for 12 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.