Benedict Cumberbatch has a real knack for playing unique, oftentimes misunderstood egomaniacs. Whether it’s Doctor Strange, Sherlock Holmes, Patrick Melrose, Julian Assange, or Khan, the actor finds a way to ground his oftentimes sociopathic characters in a real emotional truth. Enter, Phil Burbank, Cumberbatch’s character from the upcoming Netflix film, “The Power of the Dog” – and a whole new level of depraved bully that the actor had to find a way to humanize. In this episode of The Discourse, Benedict Cumberbatch talks all about bringing his latest Oscar-worthy performance to life, and by going “method,” no less.
“I was given full permission to be that character and I had to. I had to go somewhere else. Jane [Campion] introduced me to the crew, as I asked her to, as Phil. ‘This is Phil – you’re working with Phil. Benedict is really nice, but you’ll meet him at the end of the shoot.’ And I’d like, good – because I need to be a bit of an asshole. There’s an upside to that. It’s freeing,” Cumberbatch shared. “This has been the longest I’ve been involved in preproduction and the longest amount of time I’ve had to invest in a character and then immerse myself in playing him on the day.”
“The Power of the Dog” is directed by critical favorite, Jane Campion and it happens to be her first directorial outing since 2009’s “Bright Star.” Campion tends to be beloved by her actors, and Cumberbatch explained why exactly that’s the case.
“She can ambush you. She can destabilize you in really good ways, as well as being generous…Jesse and I waltzed one day,” he said. “She just sort of knew to do things like that to make us shortcut all of that baggage and get into physical proximity and an understanding of each other’s bodies that was very unusual to have through any other means.”
And it wouldn’t be a Benedict Cumberbatch interview without at least a little Marvel talk. When asked about what elements of Sam Raimi are being brought to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the always cagey Cumberbatch at least shared a tease.
“You’ll have to wait and see, but I will say is that there’s a lot of Marvel and a lot of Raimi, as well. Hopefully, any fans will not be disappointed. It’s a very giddy mixture, actually, and it’s a riot. It will live up to its title, ‘The Multiverse of Madness,’ for sure,” Cumberbatch teased.
“The Power of the Dog” is in limited theaters on November 17 and will be streaming on Netflix on December 1. You can hear our full discussion below:
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