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Benedict Cumberbatch reveals he got nicotine poisoning while filming new movie

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in The Power Of The Dog (Kirsty Griffin/Netflix © 2021)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in The Power Of The Dog (Kirsty Griffin/Netflix © 2021)

Benedict Cumberbatch has revealed he gave himself nicotine poisoning three times while playing an American rancher in his new film.

The actor, 45, told Esquire UK he found the smoking habits of his character Phil Burbank challenging in the new western drama The Power Of The Dog.

The film is Oscar-winning director Jane Campion’s first since 2009 and sees Cumberbatch playing a domineering Montana ranch owner.

He told Esquire UK: “(Smoking) 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.”

The actor explained that he wanted a “layer of stink” on him to fully embody the character on set, adding: “I wanted people in the room to know what I smelt like.

“It was hard, though. It wasn’t just in rehearsals. I was going out to eat and meet friends of Jane (Campion) and stuff.”

Cumberbatch also discussed how he wanted to become “world-class at the banjo”, admitting that it meant he was “slightly antisocial” on set.

“I think my primary motivation is that I just really, really enjoy it. And I like the idea that I might be getting better at it,” he added.

The Power of the Dog UK premiere – BFI London Film Festival 2021
Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch star in The Power Of The Dog (Ian West/PA)

Cumberbatch, who was nominated for an Oscar for The Imitation Game, is tipped for a second nod for his role in this film, which also stars Kirsten Dunst and her real-life partner Jesse Plemons.

The movie star is also reprising his title role in the forthcoming sequel of Marvel’s Doctor Strange after its success at the box office.

He admitted he was nervous about the release of the upcoming film Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, which is due out in 2022.

Cumberbatch told Esquire UK: “I’ve got the second album fear with this one, because the first one was such a riotous success and he’s become a much-loved character.”

The British actor stars as Doctor Strange in the Marvel franchise. (Esquire UK/Simon Emmett)

However, he noted that being a part of the Marvel franchise was surreal, adding: “All the time when you’re making those movies are pinch-yourself moments.

“I’m never over the giddy nature of working opposite Spider-Man. It’s pretty cool.”

The Power Of The Dog will be in select cinemas in November and on Netflix from December 1.

The Winter 2021 issue of Esquire UK is on sale now.

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