Benedict Cumberbatch gave himself nicotine poisoning three times while filming The Power of the Dog

Actor says he gave himself a ‘layer of stink’ to get into character as ranch owner Phil Burbank

Isobel Lewis
Wednesday 10 November 2021 08:52
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The Power Of The Dog

Benedict Cumberbatch has revealed that he gave himself nicotine poisoning while filming The Power of the Dog.

In a new interview with Esquire UK, the actor opened up about transforming into ranch owner Phil Burbank for Jane Campion’s Netflix western, which is being tipped as an Oscar frontrunner.

As the character rarely washes – declaring “I stink and I like it” in one scene – Cumberbatch set about giving himself a “layer of stink” that would emulate Phil’s, explaining: “I wanted people in the room to know what I smelt like.”

Cumberbatch continued: “It was hard, though. It wasn’t just in rehearsals. I was going out to eat and meet friends of Jane and stuff. I was a bit embarrassed by the cleaner, in the place I was living.”

Also in line with the character, Cumberbatch was made to smoke huge numbers of cigarettes, which had to be ​​“perfectly rolled with one-hand”.

“That was really hard,” he said. “Filterless rollies, just take after take after take. I gave myself nicotine poisoning three times. When you have to smoke a lot, it genuinely is horrible.”

In his four-star review of The Power of the Dog, The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab said that Cumberbatch “re-confirms his chameleon-like qualities” in “one of his finest screen performances”.

The Power of the Dog is released on Netflix on 1 December.

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