Power of the Dog: Jesse Plemons on Benedict Cumberbatch Method Acting


Jesse Plemons say Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Method, who acted as the tough Phil Burbank while recording “The Power of the Dog”, certainly amplified their dynamism on camera. “It’s creating a mood,” Plemons tells me from Austin, filming “Love & Death,” HBO Max’s original limited-edition series about the Texas housewife Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen), who murdered a fellow churchgoer with an ax in 1980. “It starts to creep in and out somehow,” he says.

In the Netflix movie, written and directed by Jane Campion and based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, Cumberbatch plays a wealthy rancher in Montana from 1925 who mourns Bronco Henry, his late mentor and likely lover. His repressed feelings make him bully his brother (Plemons), his sister-in-law Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Plemons admits that Cumberbatch unknowingly almost took things too far. “There was a time he got under my skin,” he says. “He was like, ‘Hey, big boy.’ It was not ‘fatso’. I feel like a few people in life have been like, ‘Hey, big boy’, and I thought, ‘Hell. What the hell. “

Later, while the cast was enjoying dinner, Cumberbatch apologized when Plemons told him the remark “pissed me off.” “He said, ‘I’m so sorry,’” Plemons says with an English accent, laughing. “I thought, ‘No, don’t worry. That was good.’”

Cumberbatch may have been upset, but Phil Burbank not so much. “Everyone was on the same page,” Cumberbatch says. “I was introduced to the crews as ‘Phil.’ Jane would say, “This is Phil. You have to work with Phil. Benedict is really sweet, but you have to go to me and meet him at the end of the filming.” It just gave me permission to commit to this character, whose behavior is at times disgusting, and not feel apologetic or embarrassed or self-conscious about it in any way. “

Cumberbatch would normally keep his distance from his fellow stars. Plemons remembers hanging on to the set with Dunst and Smit-McPhee, but Cumberbatch “would be out in his corner braiding or making what he was making, or rolling cigarettes. I think that was really helpful.”

The film is up to 10 Critics Choice Awards and has just this morning won three SAG Award nominations for Cumberbatch, Dunst and Smit-McPhee. Plemons was hardly in the film – he was originally attached to the film, but was replaced by Paul Dano due to schedule conflicts. Eventually, he was able to return to the film. ‘I read the manuscript before reading the book. It was quite early in the process, ”says Plemons. “I was completely impressed with the script. It was probably the best script I had read in quite a few years. With any good script, you feel like you’ve been transported into a world that you want to stay in, and it had she did. “

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Peter Sarsgaard and Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter”.
© Netflix / Courtesy Everett Colle

One can assume that it is a bit uncomfortable to film intimate scenes with your director’s husband. “It was not awkward at all,” he says Jessie Buckley, who was supposed to do exactly that when she was playing boyfriends Peter Sarsgaard in Maggie Gyllenhaaldirectorial debut, “The Lost Daughter.” “You just put yourself aside and you just do it.… We’re both adults enough to just really tell the story,” Buckley tells me on the phone from the Playhouse Theater in the West End, where she’s starring in a revival of Cabaret. ”As Sally Bowles opposite. Eddie Redmayne as emcee. “I thought it was some kind of rock ‘n’ roll. I thought, ‘evil! Good for you!’ They’ve been married for ages, and they respect each other as much as artists, and I thought, how cool for them both to keep that space and think, “Let’s just do something great together.”

While Buckley says she is “inspired and empowered” by Gyllenhaal, who also wrote the script, she is not ready to jump into the instruction right now. “I think you have to get to it at the right time,” she explains. “Right now I do not feel it. I was talking to someone who interviewed her once 15 years ago, and she said at the time, ‘Oh, I never would.’ I’m really glad she did in the end. “Obviously, she really needed to tell the story.”

In London, Buckley and the cast and crew of “Cabaret” have had to meet COVID head-on. They shut down for two weeks after just one performance when a member of the backstage team tested positive. Aside from the pandemic, Buckley admits that she tried many times to convince herself not to do the show because she was “horrified” to receive the iconic Sally Bowles, who served Liza Minnelli an Oscar for the film adaptation from 1972. “I have kept telling them that I really just want to come and see this and not be a part of it,” she says, laughing.

That said, she hopes she and Redmayne will jump over the pond to run on Broadway. “I’m not sure yet, but I would love it,” Buckley says. “I certainly would not stop crying.”

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With the “Fraggle Rock” series, “Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock” restarts, attracting guest stars such as Cynthia Erivo, Patti LaBelle, Ed Helms, Kenan Thompson and Daveed Diggs, executive producer for the series John Tartaglia brainstorm already who he wants if the Apple TV Plus show gets another season. “I want more than anything Celine Dion as a Fraggle. At this point, I think I’m annoyed everyone to the gills because I do not shut up with Celine Dion, ”he says. “Dolly Parton is the other. We have a Fraggle in the background, which I sometimes jokingly call Dolly, because she’s got very light hair, and it’s very long, and this, like, feather-boa outfit. “The restart bends January 21st.

VISION: “Bag” star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez celebrates her birthday with cocktails in the Lobby Bar at The West Hollywood Edition before having dinner at John Fraser‘s Ardor restaurant.

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Brendan Burke

New York performing artist Ryan Raftery continues its bio-musical series featuring celebrities with “The Trial of Andy Warhol” at Joe’s Pub, starting on February 20th. Raftery, whose previous topics include Andy Cohen, Calvin Klein, Martha Stewart and Anna Wintour, now focuses on the late artist and how he is responsible for the modern concept of fame, which has been taken to new heights by social media.

Additional reporting by Salome Hailu.

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