Oscar-nominated Tea Power of the Dog star Jesse Plemons said Sam Elliott’s widely-publicized criticism of the Jane Campion film “made me laugh.”
Appearing on the red carpet ahead of Friday night’s screening of his upcoming film Windfall— also a Netflix outing, with this one directed by Charlie McDowell — Plemons told The Hollywood Reporter that people can have their own opinions. “I know there are different layers to that,” he added. “Not everyone has to like it, I’ll say that. That’s fine.”
He’s the latest Oscar-nominated talent from the critically-acclaimed film to offer a take on Elliott’s comments, delivered less than two weeks ago on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. In short, Elliott said that he didn’t like the Western, specifically flagging character portrayals and the film’s themes of masculinity and sexuality. “They made it look like — what are all those dancers that those guys in New York that wear bowties and not much else?” Elliot said. “That’s what all these fucking cowboys in that movie looked like. They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie.”
It certainly resonated with critics and the Academy. It earned 12 nominations, including best picture, best director and nods for all of its featured actors, including Plemons and real-life partner Kirsten Dunst, lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch and supporting player Kodi Smit-McPhee. The latter dismissed Elliott’s digs to variety by saying he had nothing to add “because I’m a mature being and I’m passionate about what I do, and I don’t really give energy to anything outside of that.” He added, “Good luck to him.”
Cumberbatch, who plays complicated rancher Phil, was more forthcoming during an appearance on a BAFTA Film Sessions panel. “Somebody really took offense to — I haven’t heard it, so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it — to the West being portrayed in this way,” he said. “And 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 toward homosexuality still, toward an acceptance of the other, of any kind of difference, and no more so I guess than in this prism of conformity of what’s expected of a man in the Western archetype mold of masculinity. So I think to deconstruct that through Phil, to look at that, it’s not a history lesson.”
Nominated DP Ari Wegner offered a similar take to Plemons when asked by NBC News. “I had to laugh, really,” she relayed. “I find it hard to take it seriously because it’s really a wonderful example of the point the film is trying to make: There’s so many stereotypes of what a man should be, and it’s crazy to think that they’re still so strong and present . I don’t know. I had to laugh a little bit, not out of disrespect — everyone has their own opinions — but there is something deeply uneasy about hearing those kind of comments in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Plemons was making his first big appearance of the weekend after landing back in Los Angeles, fresh from filming the TV series Love and Death opposite Elizabeth Olsen. His schedule caused him to miss Monday’s Oscar nominees luncheon, as did Dunst, who was also needed on set. “We were both bummed that we weren’t able to make that,” he said of the starry luncheon. “I’ve been on this show pretty much since before Venice last year. So, it has been nice, the few events that I have been able to get to.”
The pair will reunite for Saturday’s DGA Awards at the Beverly Hilton, where they are confirmed to present the feature film nomination for Campion. On Sunday, the entire team is up for best ensemble at the Critics Choice Awards, along with nods for best picture, among others. But Friday was all about McDowell’s Windfallwhich casts Plemons opposite Lily Collins and Jason Segel in a three-hander about a couple (Plemons and Collins) who arrive at a vacation home only to find they’re being robbed by an unpredictable man (Segel).
“So much fun,” Plemons said of the shoot. “It was an extremely collaborative process. The script was amazing to begin with, and then we all got to Ojai and just started personalizing the characters and adding a little more nuance. It was a lot of just playing around, which we don’t always get the opportunity to do.”
Windfall starts streaming on Netflix on March 18.