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Benedict Cumberbatch insists an actor's sexuality is not relevant to a role

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in ’The Power of the Dog’. Picture: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in ’The Power of the Dog’. Picture: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

Published Sep 6, 2021

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Benedict Cumberbatch has said that actors should not have to explain their sexual history before taking on a role.

The 45-year-old actor - who has three sons with wife Sophie Hunter - insisted he is "very sensitive" about representation and diversity on the movie industry but doesn't think his own sexual orientation should stop him taking on parts such as cattle rancher Phil in his new movie “The Power of the Dog”.

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He said: "Is this a thing where our dance card has to be public? Do we have to explain all our private moments in our sexual history? I don’t think so.”

In the movie - which is an adaptation of Thomas Savage's novel of the same name - Benedict's character develops an unexpected chemistry with his brother's stepson Peter played by “Alpha” star Kodi Smit-McPhee, 25, and he was attracted to the role because he got to explore his character's "private" feelings.

Speaking at the Telluride Film Festival, He added: "“I feel very sensitive about representation, diversity, and inclusion.

“One of the appeals of the job was the idea that in this world, with this specific character, there was a lot that was private, hidden from view.”

Co-star Kodi Smit-McPhee also opened up about being a heterosexual actor playing a gay character, insisting his own sexuality didn't stop him from relating to his character.

He said: “I would say that there’s a lot in Peter that I relate to. Sure, I’m a straight man, but I’m extremely in touch with my feminine side. I was raised by my mother and my sister. [The film] was a really experimental but beautiful thing to do."

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Academy Award-winning screenwriter Jane Campion has directed the adaptation of the controversial novel, which deals with themes of suicide and alcoholism in the 1920s.

Benedict previously played gay mathematician Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game”.

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