'1883' Star Sam Elliott Blasts 'Power of the Dog' for Its Controversial Themes

Actor Sam Elliott called Jane Campion's critically acclaimed Western The Power of the Dog a "piece of s—" because of its gay themes and compared the male characters to Chippendales dancers "who wear bowties and not much else." Elliott, 77, made the comments during the latest episode of WTF with Marc Maron, going on to say he was "rubbed the wrong way" by the film because it was shot in New Zealand. The Power of the Dog earned 12 Oscar nominations and is the frontrunner for Best Picture.

When Marc Maron asked Elliott about the film, the 1883 actor asked the comedian if he wanted to "talk about that piece of s—." He compared the cowboys in the film to Chippendales dancers "who wear bowties and not much else." Elliott went on, "That's what all these f—ing cowboys in that movie looked like. They're all running around in chaps and no shirts, there's all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the f—ing movie."

Next, Elliott wondered why Campion, who was born in New Zealand and shot the film there, felt qualified to tell this story. "She's a brilliant director, I love her previous work, but what the f— does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West?" Elliott asked, forgetting about the many great Westerns made by directors who were not American. "And why the f— did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say 'This is the way it was?' That rubbed me the wrong way, pal."

"The myth is that they were these macho men out there with the cattle. I just come from f—ing Texas where I was hanging out with families, not men, families, big, long, extended, multiple-generation families," Elliott said before trailing off.

Elliott also went on to complain about Benedict Cumberbatch's character, Phil Burbank, walking around while wearing chaps throughout the movie. "He had two pairs of chaps, a wooly pair, and a leather pair," Elliott told Maron. "Every time he'd walk in from somewhere, he never was on a horse, maybe once, he'd walk into the f—ing house, storm up the f—ing stairs, go lay on his bed in his chaps and play his banjo. It was like, what the f—? Where's the Western in this Western?"

The Power of the Dog is based on the 1967 novel by American author Thomas Savage. Cumberbatch's Phil and his brother, George (Jesse Plemmons) are Montana ranchers whose lives change when George marries inn owner Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst). Later, Rose's son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) arrives, changing the family dynamic and bringing up surprising secrets from Phil's past, including his repressed homosexuality. The film earned 12 Oscar nominations, and Campion became the first woman in history to earn a second Best Director Oscar nod, almost 30 years after she earned her first for The Piano. The Power of the Dog is now available to stream on Netflix.