Benedict Cumberbatch “gave [himself] nicotine poisoning three times” by smoking cigarettes excessively for his new film, The Power of the Dog.

Cumberbatch said that his role as Phil Burbank, a ranch owner in 1920s Montana, for the adoption of Thomas Savage’s western novel required him to smoke regularly using rolled-up cigarettes.

“Filterless rollies, just take after take after take… When you have to smoke a lot, it is genuinely horrible,” he told Esquire.

Cumberbatch also had to learn how to roll them with one hand, just like his character.

The lead of the new film was dedicated to being truly authentic to his role and learned the same skills as his character. He learned ironmongery, even making a horseshoe as a gift for the film’s director, Jane Campion. He also learned woodworking, which involved carving a set of wooden furniture.

Cumberbatch didn’t bathe himself, like his character Burbank.

He said, “I wanted that layer of stink on me. I wanted people in the room to know what I smelled like. It was hard, though. It wasn’t just for 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.”

He was so committed to becoming his character that he took to true method acting. Cumberbatch would stop answering to his real name. “If someone forgot… and called me Benedict, I wouldn’t move,” he said.

The Power of the Dog will be released on Netflix on November 17. Kirsten Dunst will also star in the film.

Leave a comment

Read more about: