Benedict Cumberbatch felt ‘deep empathy’ for his character in The Power of the Dog

production still of Benedict Cumberbatch holding a paper flower in The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch related to his character in The Power of the Dog. Pic credit: Netflix

Netflix’s acclaimed Western drama The Power of the Dog has brought together fans and critics alike as many have dubbed the movie in their “Best of 2021” lists. Since its recent debut — limited theatric run in the United States and the United Kingdom on November 17 and global release on Netflix on December 1 — the star-studded flick has bagged multiple nominations from the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Picture for each.

Trading his wizard cape for a pair of time-period chaps, Benedict Cumberbatch swoops the screen as lead rancher Phil Burbank. The wealthy ranch-owner is tough-skinned and does not play well with others. He lives to exert his dominance among his peers and newcomers.

The off-beat movie, directed by Bright Star’s Jane Campion, takes its viewers on an emotional ride as Phil and his brother (Jesse Plemons) insert themselves into the lives of the mother-and-son duo Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter Gordon (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

What has Benedict Cumberbatch said about his role?

In an interview with The Guardian, Cumberbatch opened up about playing the complex character Phil Burbank. While first presented as cookie-cutter antagonist, Phil eventually grows on the movie’s audience, but not quite to the point of redemption. It’s challenging to forgive his poor behavior when he shows little commitment to changing and the consequences of such continue to play out on the big screen.

Like most actors, Cumberbatch formed a deep connection with his character and shared that he had “deep empathy” for Phil.

“I have a deep, deep empathy for him, a real love for him, a real feeling of the tragedy of someone who has lived his entire life in a secretive way apart from one small shard of acceptance and tolerance with a man in his teenage years,” the English actor shared.

Production still of Benedict Cumberbatch riding a horse in The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank. Pic credit: Netflix

“This is a man who has lived his entire life without fully knowing what it is to love and to be loved. The loneliness and the pain of that – I felt for that, I really did,” he added.

2021 was an eventful year for Cumberbatch

The Power of the Dog has gone on to receive a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, signifying high critical approval. This rated-R flick runs just over two hours and has been praised for its unpredictable nature, sinister twists, and stunning cinematography.

In addition to his impressive work in The Power of the Dog, Cumberbatch has been making headlines due to his heavy prominence in the newly-released Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Reprising his Marvel role as Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch aided Tom Holland’s Peter Parker on his quest to regain his superhero anonymity which proves to be harder than imagined.

The trailer for the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel has also caused the actor to trend as the highly-anticipated movie teases the return of the Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and a deeper dive into the multiverse.

This year, Cumberbatch also starred in the movie The Electric Life of Louis Wain which was released on Amazon Prime in the beginning of November. The actor does not seem to be taking a break anytime soon as much movies are listed on his IMDb account for future release.

The Power of the Dog is currently streaming on Netflix.

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