Jane Campion, director of The Power Of The Dog, has revealed that she let Benedict Cumberbatch improvise the film’s climax.
The western drama film follows charismatic rancher Phil Burbank (Cumberbatch), who torments his younger brother George (Jesse Plemons) when George brings home his new wife Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst).
In the film’s closing scenes, Phil throws a tantrum after Rose sells his cowhides – a scene that was mostly improvised by Cumberbatch.
Speaking to IndieWire, Campion said: “I didn’t have a clue what he was going to do. In rehearsal, we never went there. We never went to that place to look at what he might do there.
“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.”
Plemons previously said how Cumberbatch’s method acting irritated him at one point during filming, after Cumberbatch called him “big boy” while in character.
“There was one time he got under my skin,” Plemons said. “He was like, ‘Hey, big boy’.
“It wasn’t ‘fatso’. I feel like a few people in my life have been like, ‘Hey, big boy,’ and I was like, ‘Goddamn it. What the fuck?’”
When the cast were having dinner, Cumberbatch apologised for the remark after Plemons told him it “pissed me off”.
Speaking to NME about method acting for the film, Cumberbatch said: “I didn’t want to be really mean to Kirsten, but I needed to stay in character. So I didn’t speak to her on-set. She was the same. We were the negative to each other’s positive. [We were] repelled by each other.”
The Power Of The Dog won three Golden Globes earlier this year, including awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor.