‘The Power of the Dog’ team talk about shutting production down because of COVID-19

At the exclusive press conference for The Power of the Dog held for the Critics’ Choice Association, the movie’s creative team discussed shutting down production because of the pandemic. Here’s what they said, shared by Solzy At The Movies:

The Power of the Dog: Cast Talk Production Pause

By Danielle Solzman

Writer-director Jane Campion, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, cinematographer Ari Wegner, editor Peter Sciberras, and producer Tanya Seghatchian participated in the hour long press conference.

Earlier during the press conference, Cumberbatch discussed some of the skills he learned for the shoot. Among them was learning to be an asshole. However, the actor also said he went method for the entire time. This question kind of goes hand in hand with that question.

Netflix releases the film in select theaters. The streaming release will follow on December 1.

When it came to getting back into production after the shutdown, how quick did it take you to get back into character or were you method for that entire time? This is for the cast.

Benedict Cumberbatch: Uh, no, I was not an asshole for three months straight. (Audience laughs) However, there were occasions. Yeah, I was worried about it. I was worried about ’cause he’s very far away from me, and I thought, how I really-we’d done a lot by then for Phil’s character. A lot of that was already shot. I was anxious about it. But we talked. I kept it alive at various points, did a lot of banjo practice, which helped.

But also just, I think the experience of what we kind of went through during lockdown kind of fit into it. Like I said, we came back, we had a brief rehearsal period to try and just get up to speed and oil the engine and see that it was all there. And it really was. I mean, people were-people were bring new stuff and new levels of focus and intensity. And especially Jane. I think she was refreshed, she was just—yeah, you’d sort of, it was like a new leaf, it was lovely

Jane Campion: Thanks. Well, I must have been tired all time to start with.

Benedict Cumberbatch: No. You said that.

Jane Campion: No, no. But no, yeah, no, no. I’d like to hear what others have to say to the question. But for me, it was time to sleep. I’d never slept so well, actually, ’cause there was nowhere to get—nothing to get up for. I never—I can’t even remember not having that feeling of, like, “Oh, I’ve got to be somewhere, I’ve got to be somewhere.” So I loved that. And then when I realized we were going to get up again, I was, like, “Okay.” It did feel like a privilege, and I really wanted us to come and—I just felt the desire. I just felt the energy in me, like, oh, we’re going to get this. And I had a chance to look at the material and see where we’d gone well and where we could improve. And that was super helpful too.

Jesse Plemmons: I mean, there was a part of it that was—it was just so exciting to—for it to have not taken, I mean, at that point, we had no idea how long it was going to be. So it was two months or something, two and a half.

Jane Campion: Yeah, it was about three months, I think.

Jesse Plemmons: Three months?

Unknown Female, either Kirsten Dunst or Ari Wegner: Three months. Yeah.

Jesse Plemmons: I think the first thing I shot was maybe George in the bathtub or something like that. So it was, for whatever reason, a kind of a nice way back into George. But it was just, after the sort of uncertainty of the world and all the scrubbing your groceries down, it’s like, “All right. Well, we know we can do this.” It just felt so good to finish. And there were such huge scenes still to shoot, so it was just really exciting to all be. And it took probably a few days to get used to sort of feeling like you’re working in a hospital or something with, all the gear and everything. But you adjust, and, yeah, it was just really exciting and so much fun.

Kodi Smit-McPhee: You covered that pretty nicely. I had to go back to Australia for the lockdown time and we had quite severe restrictions and all that kind of stuff so it was intense. So in that time, my mind was just on kind of supporting, ironically, my mom, who is a single mother, and my little brother, which I guess kind of kept me in the essence of everything. So, yeah, I guess in the same sense, I was just grateful to get back and Jane had a new profound energy about her, and these new notes, and a new direction which guided, I think for me personally, it guided us greatly to the end.