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Benedict Cumberbatch talks health scare during Netflix filming

Jane Campion-directed Netflix feature film The Power of the Dog has generated quite the buzz with the director winning the Best Director award at the Venice Film Festival and the main lead Benedict Cumberbatch lauding her valiant efforts. 

However, the actor recently opened up about some of the most terrifying health scares he had while filming this feature. 

Based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel, starring an ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee and more, the film is set in the 1920s Montana ranch where Phil and George Burbank are wealthy rancher brothers. 

Cumberbatch plays the sneering, chain-smoking and cruel ranch owner Phil. Being a method actor, Cumberbatch had to adopt the habit of smoking which had harrowing health implications. 

Talking to Esquire, he spoke about how it “was really hard” to adopt such an uncharacteristic habit. “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,” said the Doctor Strange actor. 

Despite the former Sherlock star’s health taking a toll, Cumberbatch remained resolute and wanted to retain the authenticity of the character. Paying no heed to the physical stress, he wanted to get into the skin of Phil Burbank inside out. “I wanted that layer of stink on me. I wanted people in the room to know what I smelt like,” continued Cumberbatch. 

“It was hard, though. It wasn’t just in rehearsals. I was going out to eat and meet friends of [director] Jane [Champion] and stuff.”

The film premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2021, but will begin streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. 

Check out Best of Netflix’s review of the film here