Director Jane Campion has responded to Sam Elliott’s disparaging comments about her Oscar-nominated film “The Power of the Dog.”
While attending the 2022 Directors Guild of America Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Saturday night, Variety asked Campion if she was surprised by Sam Elliott’s harsh critique of her movie.
“I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H,” Campion replied in a clip from the interview shared on Twitter. “I’m sorry to say it, but he’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor.”
She added, “The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist because when you think about the number of amazing Westerns that were made in Spain by (director) Sergio Leone.”
Campion told Variety she is a creator and “I think he thinks of me as a woman or something lesser first, and I don’t appreciate that.”
Earlier this month, Elliott was interviewed by Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast. When Maron asked the “1883” star if he liked Campion’s psychological drama, Elliott responded, “You want to talk about that piece of s--t?”
He complimented Campion as a “brilliant director” before questioning, “What ... does this woman from down there ... New Zealand, know about the American West?”
Elliott continued, “And why ... 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 “A Star Is Born” actor also compared the cowboys in “The Power of the Dog” to Chippendales dancers.
“They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the f-----g movie,” Elliott said.
“The Power of the Dog” tells the story of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, Phil Burbank, a closeted gay rancher living in Montana who struggles with his toxic masculinity.
Last week, Cumberbatch, who received a best actor nomination for his role in “The Power of the Dog,” brought up Elliott’s remarks during a BAFTA Film Sessions interview.
“I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here,” Cumberbatch said, although he did not mention Elliott’s name. “Someone really took offense to — I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to really comment in detail on it — but really took offense to the West being portrayed in this way.”
Cumberbatch, who actually learned ranching skills and lived in Montana in preparation for the role, also noted, “that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a heteronormative existence because of what they do for a living or where they’re born, there’s also a massive intolerance within the world at large towards homosexuality still, toward an acceptance of the other and any kind of difference.”
Co-star Jesse Plemons also addressed Elliott’s rant during the premiere of his new thriller “Windfall” Friday night in West Hollywood.
Plemons told Variety, “I laughed when I heard. I don’t know why.”
Like Cumberbatch, Plemons also hasn’t listened to the podcast, but explained that he was aware of what Elliott said.
“I know there’s some undertones to what he said, but I also feel like you don’t have to like the movie and that’s totally fine. Not everyone has to like it,” Plemons concluded.
Despite Elliott’s feelings about the film, “The Power of the Dog” has been having a successful awards season run.
After calling out Elliott on the red carpet, Campion made history at the DGA Awards by winning in the theatrical feature film category for her Netflix movie. She became the second consecutive woman —and only third in history — to be awarded that top prize, according to Variety.
Her neo-Western also leads nominees at the upcoming 94th annual Academy Awards with 12 nominations.