Power of the Dog star Benedict Cumberbatch responded to fellow actor Sam Elliott‘s criticism of the movie’s “allusions to homosexuality,” on Marc Maron‘s WTF podcast last week.

In the Oscar-nominated movie, Cumberbatch plays Phil Burbank, a closeted Montana rancher in 1925.

“I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here,” Cumberbatch said on Friday at a BAFTA Film Sessions event.

Cumberbatch defended the movie and his character.

“Beyond that reaction, that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a heteronormative existence because of what they do for a living or where they’re born, there’s also a massive intolerance within the world at large towards homosexuality still and toward an acceptance of the other and anything kind of difference,” the actor added. “No more so than in this prism of conformity of what’s expected of a man in the Western archetype mold of masculinity. To deconstruct that through Phil, it’s not a history lesson.”

Elliot seemed to take issue with how the old West was represented. He compared the men in the movie to Chippendale dancers.

“That’s what all these f—-g cowboys in that movie looked like,” Elliott said, “They’re running around in chaps and no shirts.”

Elliot also questioned if the film’s New Zealand-born director Jane Campion could accurately direct a film about a place and culture she had no experience in.

“Well, what the f— does this woman — she’s a brilliant director, by the way, I love her work, previous work — but what the f— does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West?”

Regardless of Elliot’s opinion, Power of the Dog is nominated for 12 Academy Awards, making it the most nominated film of the year

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