Sam Elliott has apologized for incendiary comments he made about Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning Western drama The Power of the Dog. Speaking during Deadline’s Contenders TV event Sunday, the actor said that he feels “terrible” for the remarks he made at the film’s expense on a March episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.
“First, don’t do a podcast with the call letters WTF,” Elliott said in jest, before expressing more sincere remorse. “And in trying to tell the WTF guy how I felt about the film, I wasn’t very articulate about it.”
The actor continued: “I said some things that hurt people and I feel terrible about that. The gay community has been incredible to me my entire career, and I mean my entire career, from before I got started in this town. Friends on every level and every job description up until today. I’m sorry that I hurt any of those friends, and someone that I loved, and anyone else by the words that I used.”
Elliott went on to offer individual apologies to Campion, as well as the film’s star Benedict Cumberbatch, calling them both “brilliant.” He added, “I can only say that I’m sorry, and I am.”
To catch you up to speed: Elliott, who’s starred in many a Western, referred to The Power of the Dog as a “piece of shit” when Maron inquired about the film. “Where’s the Western in this Western?” Elliott asked. “[The actors] are all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the fucking movie.”
Elliott also implied that New Zealand-born Campion wasn’t qualified to tell a story about the American Wild West: “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.
He continued: “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?’… I took it fucking personal, pal.”
Both Campion and Cumberbatch have responded to Elliott’s initial criticisms. Cumberbatch said that he hoped The Power of the Dog — which centers around a cowboy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality — helped explain “what creates toxic masculinity.” Meanwhile, Campion gave Elliott some more straightforward feedback: “He was being a little bit of a b-i-t-c-h.”