While promoting Oscars’ favorite The Power of the Dog, Benedict Cumberbatch spoke to Yahoo about his role in the film as the masochistic and mean-spirited Phil Burbank. A cruel rancher who torments his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, the role of Burbank took extra effort from Cumberbatch and involved delving into a darker spot.
Phil Burbank is a true piece of work, and part of what makes him so compelling is just how awful he gets. The hardest element though, as Benedict Cumberbatch recalls, is the “extreme masculinity” — something that definitely isn’t what we usually see in Cumberbatch or his roles.
“I think that vulnerability exists with Phil essentially. He’s not masquerading masculinity, he is who he is. But he is at the same time keeping something hidden. I was more worried actually about the mask, I was more worried about the masculinity, the sort of machismo of a ranch man and the amount of tools and skills and brilliance that he brings to that from the book and in the script and on film that I am not acquainted with.” he told Yahoo.
Cumberbatch told of how, to get prepared for the role, he spent time on several real ranches in Montana to get an idea of the character, which he referred to as a “dude campus”. He spent time with numerous ranchers and said he gained a few skills along the way. “An amazing experience where I got to be on two or three different ranches, I got to learn on different horses, I got to rope, I got to make rope and treat hyde.” he revealed.
The Academy Award-winning actor said it was “frightening to be moving into that sort of realm of masculinity.” for the role of Phil Burbank.
The Power of the Dog was directed by Jane Campion, and is available to stream now on Netflix, and will have a limited theatrical run before awards season hits.