In preparation for his role as Phillip Burbank in Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog, Benedict Cumberbatch learned how to do everything his character knows how to do—from playing the banjo to whittling and making rope. Before the film’s shooting began in New Zealand, the actor also attended an intense ranch training in Montana, where he learned all about life out in the wilderness. While this helped him in his bone-chilling performance as Burbank, it also apparently came in handy when he needed to help a family out of a bovine situation.
“I came back from shooting the film in August, and we were off to the beach,” Cumberbatch says in an interview on the Graham Norton Show, per Insider. “To get there we had to cross a field, and in the field was a petrified family who just couldn’t move. They were frozen because of a herd of cows with calves.”
“I thought, ‘I can do this,’ and I just sort of parted the waves of cattle,” Cumberbatch continues. “The family was like, ‘That was incredible. Hey, aren’t you Sherlock?’ It was very un-Sherlock activity!”
As part of the ranching skills he learned while living in Montana for two months, he was taught cow-herding and how to castrate a bull. Going full method for this role, he also did not bathe for weeks and maintained a steely attitude towards his co-star Kirsten Dunst.
All of this work seems to have paid off as Benedict is now in the Oscars race for Best Actor, facing off against Javier Bardem, Andrew Garfield, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith. The Power Of The Dog leads the Academy Award nominations this year with 12 in total, including nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Power Of The Dog is currently streaming on Netflix.