Legendary Western actor Sam Elliott held nothing back in his rant against new movie, “The Power of the Dog” (POTD). While on Marc Maron’s podcast “WTF?” Elliott let the f-word fly with abandon and told us what he really thought about director Jane Campion’s latest film, which is available for streaming on Netflix and was nominated for several Oscars. The movie tells the story of a closeted gay rancher in 1925 Montana who struggles with his sexuality and is abusive to his sister-in-law and her child.
“You want to talk about that piece of s—?” Elliott asked Maron when the podcast host asked him about the movie.
“Oh, you didn’t like that one?” Maron asked.
“I’ll tell you why.”
And for the next several minutes, Elliott condemned the film in its entirety, with the exception of Campion’s directorial skills.
“She’s a brilliant director, by the way. I love her previous work. But what the f— does this woman from New Zealand know about the American West? And why the f— does she shoot this movie down there and say that’s the way it was? That f——— rubbed me the wrong way, pal,” said Elliott.
The 77-year-old actor also mentioned a clip about the movie that “talked about the evisceration of the American myth. I thought ‘What the f—?’”
Elliott has built a career and longstanding reputation from portraying the Old West cowboy, a particular subtype of the American myth. He had more than just a casual observer’s critique of the film.
“I take it f——– personal, pal,” he told Maron.
Many online writers and commenters are calling Elliott homophobic and saying he missed the point of the whole movie, which was centered around the theme of concealed sexuality and how that affects other aspects of a person’s life. He said, “There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the f——– movie,” when in actuality they were more than allusions.
But he also took issue with the way cowboys were portrayed, which was inaccurate whether or not the characters were gay or straight. Elliott said they looked like Chippendale dancers.
“That’s what all these f—— cowboys in that movie looked like. They’re all runnin’ around in chaps and no shirts. [Benedict] Cumberbatch (who played the main character) never got out of his chaps. He had two pairs, a woolly pair and a leather pair. He never was on a horse, maybe once. He’d walk into the f——– house, sit on his f——— bed, and play his banjo in his chaps. Where’s the Western in this Western?”
That’s a valid point. Cowboys usually wear shirts for protection from the elements while they’re out doing cowboy work. They always take their chaps off when they walk into a house. And they only wear woollies (chaps made from sheepskin with the fleece still on for extra warmth) when the weather is bitterly cold, usually below 20°F with the wind blowing sideways. They definitely don’t stand around green pastures wearing woollies and shirtsleeves with sweat glistening on their faces, as the main character was seen doing more than once.
Regardless of whether a person agrees with Elliott’s opinion or not, it’s refreshing to see someone exercising their right to freedom of speech in a conservative fashion and not getting cancelled for it. Elliott was likely emboldened by the fact that most of his career is behind him and he doesn’t give a f— about social media and its influence on the public opinion. And he probably was simply saying what he really thought, but he unknowingly showed leadership in protecting the validity of the First Amendment, even when liberals don’t agree with the message shown in a citizen’s expression of speech.