Sam Elliott Criticizes 'The Power Of The Dog': What Does Jane Campion "Know About The American West?"

The Jane Campion-written and directed film is leading the Oscars-hopefuls list with 12 nominations.

Sam Elliott attends the world premiere of "1883" at Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Veteran actor Sam Elliott is back in the spotlight thanks to the Paramount+ Yellowstone prequel, 1883. In the series, he plays former Civil War soldier, Shea Brennan. The 77-year-old is famous for his roles in numerous Western films and is considered a leading figure in the genre. Elliott recently appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast and criticized Jane Campion’s 12-time Oscar-nominated drama The Power of the Dog.


The film features Benedict Cumberbatch portraying a grizzly cattle rancher who unexpectedly falls for the young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) of a widow, played by Kirsten Dunst, who recently moved to his ranch. The Montana rancher is a closeted gay man battling his own toxic masculinity while grappling with his sexuality in 1925 Montana. According to Elliott, despite being a “brilliant director,” he claimed that the New Zealand-born Campion was unfit to direct a Western drama set in Montana in the early 20th century. "Well, what the f--- does this woman — she's a brilliant director, by the way, I love her work, previous work—but what the f--- does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West? And why in the f--- does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, 'This is the way it was'?" added the Oscar nominee.


“You want to talk about that piece of shit?” Elliott started out when asked about the Netflix film. “You didn’t like that one?” Maron asked. “F--- no. Why? I’ll tell you why I didn’t like it anyway,” Elliott replied. “I looked at when I was down there in Texas doing 1883 and what really brought it home to me the other day when I said, ‘Do you want to f--king talk about it?’ There was a f--king full-page ad out in the LA Times and there was a review, not a review, but a clip, and it talked about the ‘evisceration of the American myth.’ And I thought, ‘What the f--k? What the f--k?’ This is the guy that’s done westerns forever. The evisceration of the American west? They made it look like—what are all those dancers that those guys in New York who wear bowties and not much else. Remember them from back in the day?”


Elliott likened the look of the "cowboys" in the film to Chippendales dancers, and said, "They're all running around in chaps and no shirts. There's all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the f---ing movie." "Yeah, I think that's what the movie's about," replied host Marc Maron. Elliott added that the filming location "rubbed [him] the wrong way," along with what he calls the "myth" of "these macho men out there with the cattle." "I just come from f---ing Texas where I was hanging out with families—not men, but families. Big, long, extended, multiple-generation families that made their living and their lives were all about being cowboys,” the actor said. “And, boy, when I f – – king saw that [movie], I thought, ‘What the f – – k? Where are we in this world today?’”