Sam Elliott : From his 1971 Playboy interview, John Wayne, star of westerns and war movies, had come to represent a certain ideal of American courage and masculinity
After a career spanning more than 50 years starring in Western-themed movies and TV shows, actor Sam Elliott can be expected to hold an opinion on “The Power of the Dog.”
But podcaster Marc Maron probably didn’t expect Elliot’s opinion to be so angry, homophobic when he asked the famously harsh, dark-voiced actor if he’d seen the new contemporary western directed by Jane Campion.
Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Power of the Dog’ (Neftlix)
Elliott called the film “one piece (controversial)” and denounced its “signs of homosexuality” and the cowboys who run “in chaps and without shirts”. The acclaimed film is set on a 1920s Montana ranch and stars a main character who is a closed gay man.
Of course, Maron couldn’t even imagine that Elliot’s diatribe would take his interview on his “WTF” podcast into John Wayne’s territory, circa 1971. Nearly 50 years ago, the “True Grit” legend destroyed depictions of gay s.x as “Midnight Cowboy”. Playboy interview, Wayne called the 1969 film “distorted” and . also said used a homophobic solution To describe its characters played by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Midnight Cowboy” is definitely a less traditional Western than “The Power of the Dog.” It tells an X-rated story about the naive Joe Buck, who can’t make a living as a cowboy in modern-day Texas, so he becomes a sex worker in New York City. Perhaps both films could be classified as Neo-Western, films that applied contemporary sensibilities to stories that typically have Western characters or settings.
Anyway, both the films have been praised a lot.
“Midnight Cowboy” is included in the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time. It also won Best Picture at the 1970 Academy Awards, and its British director John Schlesinger, who was openly gay, won Best Director.
Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, “The Power of the Dog” is a strong contender to win Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27. Campion, its female director, and Benedict Cumberbatch, its British star who plays Closet rancher Phil Burbank, are also in the running for best director and actor, respectively.
Just as 64-year-old Wayne ridiculed “Midnight Cowboy” in his Playboy interview, 77-year-old Elliot offered reasons why he believes “The Power of the Dog” doesn’t deserve Oscar recognition. Is. Both men showed they had a problem with films about cowboys – traditional figures of American masculinity – that featured gay characters and gay themes.
“Want to talk about that piece?” Elliott said that when Marron asked if he had seen “The Power of the Dog” in the interview released Monday.
Elliot’s derogatory remarks began with him in a review, with one critic praising the film for “dispelling the American myth”.
“What (exception)? What (expletive)?” The actor is famous for playing laconic tough guys in “Tombstone,” “Road House” and “A Star Is Born.” He compared the male characters in “The Power of the Dog” to the Chippendale dancers, then talked about how Cumberbatch’s character wears chaps all the time and “was never on a horse”—though Cumberbatch was actually a horse in the film. rides.
“All these (outrageous) cowboys look like in that movie,” Elliot said. “They are all running around without shirts. There are all these signs of homosexuality in the entire (derogatory) film.”
Maron responded by saying “what the movie is about.” Cumberbatch has also stated that the film explores “toxic masculinity”, as his character possesses an ultra-masculine personality, threatens his brother’s wife (played by Kirsten Dunst) and implores his son to be holy. jokes.
Elliot addressed the film’s theme by criticizing Campion, questioning how she could know anything about the American West because she is from New Zealand. He also objected to his choice to shoot the film in New Zealand and to use those locations in place of the plains of Montana.
“By the way, she’s a brilliant director, I love her work, past work – but what does this New Zealand woman know about the American West?” Elliot said. “And why (outrageous) does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, ‘It was like that.’ That (abusive) harassed me in the wrong way.”
“The myth is that these were manly men with cattle,” Elliot continued. He then explained why Campion’s portrayal of a cowboy might be such an insult to the actual cowboy he knows.
Elliott said he had just spent several months in Texas shooting the Paramount+ TV Western series, “1883.” Elliot said: “I was hanging out with families, not men, but families – big long, extended multi-generational families who made their living (and whose lives) were all about being cowboys. “
Maron suggested that “The Power of the Dog” may not be a symbol of all Westerners, but rather told a specific story. He also noticed that Elliot took his portrayal of the cowboy personally. Elliot admitted that, yes, “I took it personally.”
However, in particular, Elliot and his wife, Katherine Ross, praised the 2005 film “Brokeback Mountain” about a doomed love affair between two men. In an interview, He called it “a beautiful film” and said he “didn’t get what it was meant to do.” Again, he made a distinction by saying that the gay characters played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were “cowboys, not cattle.”
When Maron asked Elliott which movies he considered true, great Westerns, the actor said that the John Ford classic “The Searchers” was one of his favorites. “The Searchers” also starred John Wayne in a signature role of his five-decade career. From his 1971 Playboy interview, Wayne, star of westerns and war movies, had come to represent a certain ideal of American courage and masculinity.
Surprisingly, Elliot stated that he was not a “huge” fan of Wayne – even though it was revealed that Wayne apparently shared his concerns about “homosexuality” in contemporary films about the American West. .
In his Playboy interview, Wayne also lamented that Hollywood was no longer making movies “for the whole family” in the early 1970s. Instead the studios were “cranking out” “perverse movies” such as “Easy Rider” and “Midnight Cowboy”, saying that the “love” between the two men in “Midnight Cowboy” would be worthy. In the same interview, Wayne More notoriously racist commentsWhen he said, “I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to be responsible.”
Elliot said that Gary Cooper was “my guy”. Since Cooper’s death in 1961, it is not known whether Cooper would have had any problems with gay characters in more contemporary cowboy films.