As Peter Gordon in Jane Campion’s new movie The Power Of The Dog, Kodi Smit-McPhee is practically a beacon of otherness. He’s tall, pale, and thin when everyone else on-screen is rugged and worn. He’s effeminate and self-assured, and he’s got a predilection for fine details and book learning. He barely knows how to ride a horse, and his new jeans—bought by his mother so he fits in on the ranch—are as stiff as a board.
All of that is to say, Kodi Smit-McPhee is really great in The Power Of The Dog, a movie that relies on his character to set all of its other players in motion. When The A.V. Club sat down with Smit-McPhee for a recent chat, we asked him about Peter’s self-confidence and sense of purpose.
“I think we all have an arc in our life in terms of growing into our identity and how we represent ourselves to the external world,” says Smit-McPhee, continuing:
“I feel for him specifically. He’s dealt with a great amount of trauma. In our modern day, without any therapy, we tend to suppress those feelings, those emotions, and they come out in different ways. Whereas for him—and I think it might have something to do with the landscape or his beautiful mother and the mission of how he always has to look after her—he dealt with that trauma at face value. That’s at least personally what I thought in my approach to him. I don’t think that energy and that trauma went anywhere. He dealt with it right there in the environment, and that’s when it solidified who he was, because then those energies and those emotions couldn’t come up anywhere else. So it created a very genuine human being, one that was extremely comfortable in their own skin and wasn’t going to change for the world.”
There’s more from Smit-McPhee in the clip above, including his thoughts on the friction between his character and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil Burbank. If you’d like to check out our interview with Cumberbatch, you can do that here. Our review for the movie is also just a click away.
The Power Of The Dog is in select theaters now and hits Netflix later this week.