Jane Campion calls Sam Elliott “sexist” following ‘The Power Of The Dog’ criticism

"I'm sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H"

Director Jane Campion has responded to Sam Elliott’s criticism of her film The Power Of The Dog, labelling him “sexist”.

Last month, the A Star Is Born actor took aim at the “allusions to homosexuality” in the Netflix film, as well as an LA Times article that talked about the “evisceration of the American myth”, and called the film “a piece of shit”.

The Western film follows Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, a sexually repressed ranch owner, and his fraught relationship with his brother (Jesse Plemons), his brother’s new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee).


During Elliott’s interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, the host noted that homosexuality is “what the movie’s about”, the actor going on to call Campion “a brilliant director”.

Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Power of the Dog'
Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Power of the Dog’. CREDIT: Netflix/Kirsty Griffin

However, Elliott then added: “What the fuck does this woman from down there [New Zealand] know about the American west? Why the fuck did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That fucking rubbed me the wrong way.”

Responding to Elliott’s criticism, Campion told Variety: “I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor. The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.”

The director went on to note: “When you think about the number of amazing Westerns made in Spain by [director] Sergio Leone. I consider myself a creator. I think he thinks of me as a woman or something lesser first, and I don’t appreciate that.”

Jane Campion
Jane Campion CREDIT: Rich Fury/Getty Images


Cumberbatch has also responded to Elliott’s words, calling his criticism “very odd” while going on to speak about his character in the film.

“These people still exist in our world,” he said (via Digital Spy). “Whether it’s on our doorstep or whether it’s down the road or whether it’s someone we meet in a bar or pub or on the sports field, there is aggression and anger and frustration and an inability to control or know who you are in that moment that causes damage to that person and, as we know, damage to those around them.

“There’s no harm in looking at a character to get to the root causes of that. This is a very specific case of repression, but also due to an intolerance for that true identity that Phil is that he can’t fully be.”

He added: “The more we look under the hood of toxic masculinity and try to discover the root causes of it, the bigger chances we have of dealing with it when it arises with our children.”

Smit-McPhee also weighed in on Elliott, admitting to Variety that he has “nothing” to say “because I’m a mature being and I’m passionate about what I do, and I don’t really give energy to anything outside of that”.

The Power Of The Dog was one of the big winners at last night’s (March 13) BAFTAs, winning two awards including Best Film and Best Director for Campion. The film is also up for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture.

NME has reached out to Elliott’s representatives for further comment.