Benedict Cumberbatch defends ‘straight actors’ playing gay roles

Red carpet image of Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch opened up about his latest role. Pic credit: ©

Benedict Cumberbatch has been making press rounds for his upcoming movie The Power of the Dog. The 45-year-old actor has been attending exclusive premieres of the movie in Italy and California.

Power of the Dog made its world premiere on September 2, 2021, at the 78th International Venice Film Festival. The movie reportedly received a four-minute standing ovation and is currently slated to be a top pick for the upcoming awards season. BBC journalist Nicholas Barber praised Cumberbatch’s role in the film. He expressed that the movie “boasts one of Benedict Cumberbatch’s most remarkable transformations.”

Barber summarized the viewing experience with, “It’s a film which shimmers with intelligence, and if the plot isn’t clear until the very last scene, well, it’s worth the wait.” Following this well-received premiere came an appearance at the Telluride Film Festival, where Cumberbatch opened up about the stigma surrounding “straight” actors playing gay roles.

Cumberbatch comments on his character in The Power of the Dog

In an interview documented by IndieWire, Cumberbatch was asked about the authenticity of his role in his latest project. The English actor gave some great insight into his character, Phil Burbank.

He shared, “I feel very sensitive about representation, diversity, and inclusion.” The actor continued, “one of the appeals of the job was the idea that in this world, with this specific character, there was a lot that was private, hidden from view.”

When asked specifically about the concerns surrounding straight actors playing gay roles, Cumberbatch expressed that making assumptions as such was an invasion of privacy. He answered, “It wasn’t done without thought. I also feel slightly like, is this a thing where our dance card has to be public? Do we have to explain all our private moments in our sexual history? I don’t think so.”

He continued to state that the specific question would be best directed towards the movie’s director Jane Champion. This wouldn’t be the first time Cumberbatch has portrayed a character across the LGBT+ spectrum as he did in the movies Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Imitation Game.

Where to stream The Power of the Dog

Starring alongside Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog are actors Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemmons. It is expected to have a limited release on November 17, 2021. The movie will then drop on Netflix on December 1.

Netflix describes this movie as: “Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.”

The movie is based on a 1967 novel by Western novelist Thomas Savage.

The Power of the Dog is expected to premiere December 1 on Netflix.

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