Benedict Cumberbatch Used ‘Power of the Dog’ Cattle Herding Experience to Save a Family on Vacation

The star joked that he "parted the waves of cattle" for a "petrified" family to cross a field.
"The Power of the Dog"

It seems like Phil finally got his cow hides in order.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who is Oscar nominated for his turn as rancher Phil Burbank in Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” joked during BBC’s “Graham Norton Show” that his Wild West cow-herding techniques came in handy while on vacation.

“I came back from shooting the film in August and we were off to the beach,” Cumberbatch explained (via Insider) about returning to the U.K. after filming in New Zealand. “To get there we had to cross a field and in the field was a petrified family who just couldn’t move, they were frozen because of a herd of cows with calves.”

Cumberbatch continued, “I thought, ‘I can do this,’ and I just sort of parted the waves of cattle. The family was like, ‘That was incredible. Hey, aren’t you Sherlock?’ It was very un-Sherlock activity!”

The “Spider-Man: No Way Home” star revealed that “POTD” director Campion introduced Cumberbatch as Phil on set.

“Jane encouraged me to stay in character. She was very secure about all the things I was insecure about and said, ‘Do whatever you have to do to feel ownership of this very different lived experience,'” Cumberbatch added. “So, I went off to Montana for two months to find out what it is like to live on a ranch and to experience all those things you see in the film. It was incredible and so far from anything I have ever done.”

“The Power of the Dog” leads the 2022 Oscars with 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Cumberbatch, Best Supporting Actor for Jesse Plemons, Best Supporting Actress for Kirsten Dunst, and Best Director for Campion.

Campion exclusively told IndieWire via a video interview with “The Piano” star Holly Hunter that while Cumberbatch had “no apparent qualities that would work for the story, except he’s charismatic,” she bet on the “Doctor Strange” actor.

“I think Benedict, in everything that he’s done, has been extraordinary. I really guessed that he was wanting an opportunity to go very deep,” Campion said. “I needed someone to feel that ambition that this character can bring into you, because it’s a big, big journey.” 

Campion continued, “What I tend to do is just really work on a 360-degree presence of that character so no matter what happened — if we went off script, anywhere we went — he could be Phil. He could improvise in any situation. When I first saw him let it rip, I was absolutely stunned, thrilled, because I felt like this is what we need, this is what the film needs, to see the threat of Phil explode.”

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