The Academy loves Jane Campion’s western The Power of the Dog enough to nominate it for Best Picture, and critics are wild for the masculinity crisis drama, too. But actor Sam Elliott—who’s about as ruggedly western as they come—thinks it’s quite frankly a “piece of shit.”
Elliott was promoting his own cowpoke project, Paramount+’s Yellowstone prequel, 1883, on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast Monday when he downed Dog.
As IndieWire reports, the Big Lebowski narrator got things rolling with, “You want to talk about that piece of shit?”
Maron replied, “You didn’t like that one?”
Elliott—who has such a cowboy air about him that he plays a recurring character named “Wild Wild West” on Family Guy—explained, “Fuck no. Why? I’ll tell you why I didn’t like it anyway. 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 fucking talk about it?’ There was a fucking 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.’”
Such talk from the Times did not sit well with the man who played Wade Garrett, the toughest guy in Road House. He continued, “And I thought, ‘What the fuck? What the fuck?’ 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?”
He meant Chippendales, Maron helpfully clarified.
“That’s what all these fucking cowboys in that movie look like,” Elliott said. “They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie.”
Maron interjected, “I think that’s what the movie’s about.”
Elliott then wondered aloud if the American Old West was really a suitable milieu for the New Zealand-born director of The Piano.
“What the fuck does this woman—she’s a brilliant director by the way, I love her work, previous work—but what the fuck does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American west?”
Elliott, who was raised in Sacramento and Portland by Texan parents, also took issue with Campion’s choice of shooting locations, telling Maron, “And why in the fuck does 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. And the myth is that they were, you know, these macho men out there with the cattle.”
What Elliott seems to be referencing there is the depiction of lone cowboys out on the range. His experience of the west, he said, does not at all match what plays out in Campion’s picture.
“I just come from fucking Texas where I was hanging out with families,” Elliot said. “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 [Power of the Dog] , I thought, ‘What the fuck? Where are we in this world today?'”
“Well, I don’t know if that’s the biggest issue at hand,” Maron said.
“No, it’s not the biggest issue at hand, no,” Elliott replied, “but for me it was the only issue because there was so much of it. I mean, [Benedict] Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps!”
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