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Benedict Cumberbatch gave himself nicotine poisoning three times on The Power of the Dog | Movies


Benedict Cumberbatch said he “gave ‘[himself] nicotine poisoning three times” by smoking cigarettes as part of his performance in his new film The Power of the Dog.

Speaking to Esquire magazine, Cumberbatch said that his role as Phil Burbank in the adaptation of Thomas Savage’s western novel required consumption of copious amounts of rolled-up cigarettes. “Filterless rollies, just take after take after take … When you have to smoke a lot, it genuinely is horrible.” Cumberbatch also said he had to learn how to roll them with one hand, as specified in the original novel.

Elsewhere in the interview, Cumberbatch explained the lengths he went to prepare himself for the role, equipping himself with the skills his character, a ranch owner in 1920s Montana, possessed. He learned ironmongery, making a horseshoe as a gift for the film’s director, Jane Campion, and woodworking, which involved carving a set of miniature wooden furniture.

Also like his character, Cumberbatch said he didn’t wash himself. “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.”

And, in true method acting style, Cumberbatch said he stopped answering to his real name. “If someone forgot … and called me Benedict, I wouldn’t move.”

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