Sam Elliott has spent half his acting career perched on top of a horse, and he seems to now consider himself an expert on all things cowboy. In a new interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, the star of 1883 called the Oscar-nominated film The Power of the Dog a “piece of shit” while complaining about all the “allusions of homosexuality.”
Jane Campion’s deconstructed Western stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank, a self-styled macho man whose insistence on presenting himself in the most manly way possible hides deep insecurities about his sexual identity. When Maron asked Elliott what he thought of the film, the 77-year-old responded, “You want to talk about that piece of shit?”
“Where’s the Western in this Western?” Elliott asked. “I mean, Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps. He had two pairs of chaps, a woolly pair and a leather pair. And every fucking time he would walk in from somewhere — he never was on a horse, maybe once — he’d walk into the fucking house, storm up the fucking stairs, go lay in his bed in his chaps, and play his banjo. It’s like, what the fuck?”
He also compared the actors to Chippendale dancers who “wear bow ties and not much else,” adding, “That’s what all these fucking cowboys in that movie looked like. They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the fucking movie.”
Elliott saved some of his harshest criticism for New Zealand-native Campion. “What the fuck does this woman from — she’s a brilliant director, I love her work, her previous work — but what the fuck does this woman from down there 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, pal,” he said.
“I just came from fucking 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. And boy, when I fucking saw that [movie], I thought, ‘What the fuck? Where are we in this world today?’” He added, “I took it fucking personal, pal.”
Sam Elliott currently stars in 1883, a Yellowstone prequel on Paramount+. He also recently had a scene-stealing turn on Peacock’s MacGruber. As for The Power of the Dog, it was recently nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, while Campion became the first woman with two Best Director nominations.