"I feel terrible about that": Sam Elliott issues apology over Power of the Dog comments

Sam Elliot made some controversial remarks about the film The Power of the Dog in March 2022 (Image via Getty Images/Dia Dipasupil)
Sam Elliot made some controversial remarks about the film The Power of the Dog in March 2022 (Image via Getty Images/Dia Dipasupil)

American actor Sam Elliot apologized for the controversial comments he made about director Jane Campion's film, The Power of the Dog, in March.

On April 10, during his talk at Deadline's Contenders Television event, the 77-year-old star said he wanted to "apologize to the cast of the film," especially to lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch:

"I can only say that I'm sorry, and I am. I am."

While doing promotions for his Paramount+ drama series, 1883, Sam Elliot started his public apology to the team of The Power of the Dog by warning the audience:

"First, don't do a podcast with the call letters WTF. I wasn't very articulate about it; I didn't articulate it very well. And I said some things that hurt people, and I feel terrible about that."

He then credited the LGBTQIA+ community for the success of his career:

"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 I hurt any of those friends and someone that I loved. And anyone else by the words that I used."

What did Sam Elliot say about Jane Campion's film

In March 2021, Sam Elliott discussed the Oscar-winning film (which 67-year-old Campion wrote and directed) while on Marc Maron's podcast.

Comparing the looks of the "cowboys" in the film to Chippendales dancers, Elliott, who has starred in many Western films and television series, commented:

"They're all running around in chaps and no shirts. There's all these allusions to homos**uality throughout the f**king movie."

To this, the host replied:

"Yeah, I think that's what the movie's about."

In The Power of the Dog, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a grizzled cattle rancher who is drawn to the son of a widow, portrayed by Kirsten Dunst, who has lately relocated to his ranch in the film. Cumberbatch's character struggles with his sexuality in a period and setting that values rigid gender roles and expectations.

Campion's choice of location for filming the film was also criticized by the Oscar nominee:

"And why in the f**k does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, 'This is the way it was?'"

The filming setting "rubbed [him] the wrong way," as did the "myth" of "these macho men out there with the cattle," according to Elliott.

"I just come from f**king Texas where I was hanging out with families — not men, but families. Big, long, extended, multiple-generation families."

Jane Campion responded to Elliott's controversial comments while speaking to Deadline, stating it is very sad that he hit the "trifecta" of homophobia, misogyny, and xenophobia. Calling him a b*tch, she further said that he is an actor and not a cowboy.

As for Sam Elliot's series, In 1883, he plays the character of Shea Brennan, a tough Civil War vet who heads the Dutton Family and a band of European immigrants across the frontier.

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Sam Elliot will also be nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Actor category, while 1883 will compete for the Limited Series award, as the drama will not be renewed for a second season.

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Edited by Siddharth Satish