“I gave myself nicotine poisoning three times”: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Commitment To His Oscar-Nominated Role Put His Health in Grave Danger

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Commitment To His Oscar-Nominated Role Put His Health in Grave Danger
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Few actors can match Benedict Cumberbatch’s commitment and skill when it comes to character acting. The actor, who is well known for his nuanced performances, has repeatedly pushed the limits of his physical and emotional health in order to bring life to the character he plays on screen. 

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Consequently, his portrayal of his Oscar-nominated role in the 2021 film The Power of the Dog has garnered him praise from critics and viewers alike. Although the actor’s work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) may currently be more recognized, Cumberbatch has once again shown that he is more than just an on-screen superhero. 

He portrayed a character in The Power of the Dog that stands in stark contrast to both his Marvel role and every other role he has played since making his film debut. But his serious commitment to his work might put his health in danger.

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Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch

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How Benedict Cumberbatch’s Commitment to The Power of the Dog Took a Toll on His Health?

Benedict Cumberbatch has never shied away from physical or emotional transformation for a role, and The Power of the Dog was no exception. In order to portray the charismatic but volatile rancher Phil Burbank, the actor, 47, engaged in extensive research and experimentation. 

The actor, who is renowned for his method acting, went to great lengths to comprehend the mind of his character and watch the interactions of ranchers. And as he reflected on his journey to Esquire magazine, he said: 

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That was really hard. Filterless rollies, just take after take after take. I gave myself nicotine poisoning three times. When you have to smoke a lot, it genuinely is horrible.”

Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch

Cumberbatch added that despite all of this, there was always room for improvement (via Esquire magazine):

“I really wanted to become world class at the banjo. And I’m very much not. I’m very far off.”

The actor discussed his extensive preparation for the role of a ranch owner in 1920s Montana in other parts of the interview. In addition to learning woodworking, which involved carving a set of miniature wooden furniture, he also learned ironmongery. The Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor claimed that, like his role, he stayed in character throughout:

“I wanted that layer of stink on me. I wanted people in the room to know what I smelled like. It was hard, though. It wasn’t just in rehearsals. I was going out to eat and meet friends of Jane and stuff. I was a bit embarrassed by the cleaner, in the place I was living.If someone forgot … and called me Benedict, I wouldn’t move.”

Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch

Also Read: Despite Starring in 4 of the Biggest Marvel Films, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Net Worth Pales in Comparison To One of His Fictional Characters

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What Was It Like For Benedict Cumberbatch To Play Phil Burbank?

When Benedict Cumberbatch sat down for an interview with Deadline last year, he discussed Jane Campion’s movie and what it was like playing a complex character like Phil Burbank. He said he hoped his character would be an example to those watching him in that conversation:

“I hope that people see the beauty of a man whose violence, whose aggression is to be understood, in order not to be replicated.”

Benedict Cumberbatch in a still from The Power of the Dog (2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch in a still from The Power of the Dog (2021)

Undoubtedly, the character’s emotional journey and experiences were so intense that they stretched him to the point of breaking, forcing him to explore dark and unsettling parts of himself. The actor further added (via Deadline):

“The idea that he’s a tragic character because he’s incapable of love or being loved until the very end, where a possibility opens, and then because of everything that he set in motion, it closes on him and ensnares him.”

The actor was then questioned about whether portraying such a character was the most challenging project he had ever undertaken in his career. Cumberbatch agreed, saying: 

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“Yeah. In some ways, I guess it is. I had to further my standards for this. I had to reach into something I haven’t played with before.”

Moreover, he did acknowledge that it would take more time and consideration to reach that conclusion in its entirety (via Deadline):

“I don’t know. I always feel a bit on spot with this kind of question because I can’t immediately review all of my work. And they’re not always comparable.”

Benedict Cumberbatch in Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch in Power of the Dog

Thankfully, Cumberbatch’s health has not changed since the filming wrapped up. As fans, we must respect and admire his willingness to go through such life-changing experiences.

The Power of the Dog has received several honors, including a record-breaking 12 nominations for the Academy Awards

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If you have not seen it yet, you can watch The Power of the Dog on Netflix.  

Also Read: One Tiny Mistake During Benedict Cumberbatch’s Fight With Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange 2 That Many Marvel Fans Must Have Missed

Source- Esquire magazine; Deadline 

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Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1753

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1700 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.