Jane Campion certainly got the last word after Sam Elliott criticized her new film The Power of the Dog. The director was asked about Elliott’s comments on the red carpet of this year’s Director’s Guild of America Awards on Saturday night. “I think Sam — look, what can I say? — I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a b-i-t-c-h,” she said, spelling out the word. “And I’m sorry to say it, but he’s not a cowboy, he’s an actor. And the West is a mythic space, and there’s a lot of room on the range.”
After a good laugh, Campion continued, saying, “And, you know, I think it is a little bit sexist. Because if you think about the number of amazing Westerns that were made in Spain by Sergio Leone…I mean, I consider myself a creator. And I think he sees me as a woman or something less at first and, you know, I don’t appreciate that.”
The Kiwi director’s proverbial dropping of the mic comes after the A Star is Born actor slammed her latest, Oscar-nominated movie for its “allusions to homosexuality,” likening its characters to Chippendale’s dancers because “they’re all running around in chaps and no shirt.”
Elliott also took issue with Campion’s directorial eye as a New Zealander, saying, “What the fuck does this woman — she’s a brilliant director, by the way, I love her work, her previous work — but what the fuck does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West? 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?'”
Campion quickly became the main character on social media for her red-carpet slam, but for many people, she lost that goodwill during her Critics Choice Award acceptance speech on Sunday. She first shouted-out Halle Berry, the 2022 winner of the SeeHer award. “Halle Berry, you have already done my speech … and really killed it. I loved it. You’re absolutely brilliant.” She then turned to the film King Richard, which stars Will Smith as the father of Venus and Serena Williams, who served as producers.
“What an honor to be in the room with you,” Campion said to the two tennis greats. “I’ve taken up tennis — I truly have — and Will [Smith], if you want to come over and give me lessons, I would truly love it. I actually had to stop playing because I’ve got tennis elbow.” Campion then offered a quick word of praise for “the guys” — the male directors in her category.
Circling back, she said, “Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels. However, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.” The comment was loudly applauded in the room, but many people online saw the remarks as diminishing the accomplishments of two of the greatest American athletes of all time. Some thought it was “cringe” or putting “[black women’s] names in her mouth unnecessarily,” with Campion showing her “arrogance and ignorance.” Check out her acceptance speech, as well as the remarks about Sam Elliott, below.
Update – March 14th: Campion later issued a statement apologizing to Venus and Serena Williams. “I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved,” she admitted. “I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes.”
Campion continued, “The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”
The Power of the Dog is currently nominated for a dozen awards at the upcoming 2022 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Campion, Best Actor, dual nods for Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more — with Campion becoming the first woman with two Best Director nominations.
Jane Campion responds to Sam Elliott's #ThePowerOfTheDog comments: "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." https://t.co/I32wQ8lCiF pic.twitter.com/Tftq4AoXCyAdvertisement
— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2022
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 14, 2022