What happens after ‘Power of the Dog’? Kodi Smit-McPhee has a theory | Movies

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BRUCE R. MILLER

Actor Kodi Smit-McPhee says he learned a lot playing Peter, the young boy in Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’.

Perceived as weak and “most likely to be intimidated”, he mixes little with others and finds comfort in medical books. When his stepfather’s brother (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) turns on him, he retreats to his bedroom and, in many ways, forges his own path.

“There are a lot of (his) traits that parallel mine, whether it’s his physique or the things he’s interested in,” Smit-McPhee said during a Zoom interview. “He’s okay with being isolated. (He has) a very rooted and grounded pride and confidence and an unwavering spirit in the face of adversity.

In the western, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination, Smit-McPhee shrugs off the taunts and hesitantly agrees to accept his bully’s friendship. Phil Burbank of Cumberbatch offers to make him a lasso and teach him how to ride. Other motives are at play, but Peter does not say so.

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In the process, says Smit-McPhee, we learn “you don’t have to feel like you have to fit into a box. And even if you haven’t decided which box you want, being outside of it is also completely acceptable.

Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, the 25-year-old Australian says he had no idea what the Oscar attention would be like. “It’s very chaotic,” he said. “But there’s a lot of positive energy in the world and, yeah, that’s great.”

While talking about the film through months of interviews and awards shows, he says he was able to extol Campion’s virtues. “Having the privilege of being guided by her and giving her all my trust” was the greatest advantage. “I learned a lot. And, if anything, just talking about it is an affirmation for me. It kind of allows me to revisit the joy in times like this.

Because Peter is such an important character, Smit-McPhee is often asked what he thinks happened to him after the story ends. “Honestly, I feel like he would have become a successful surgeon. And (the events of the movie) would have been just another little drama from his past.

Already a Golden Globe winner, Smit-McPhee has several projects in the works but doesn’t see “Power of the Dog” as an open door to more Oscar-worthy material. “I keep crawling with passion and not thinking too much about the future.

“The beautiful side of it all is the material that comes to me, figuratively speaking, at my doorstep. That’s the beautiful side of a hunt – a hunt to work with new collaborators and keep moving forward.

Already hailed for the fashion risks he’s taken during awards season, he says he’s got a great look planned for Oscar night.

And if he manages to win?

“I don’t think anything can prepare you for being included and recognized in this way,” he says. Just being nominated is “very special”.

“The Power of the Dog” is now streaming on Netflix. The Oscars will air March 27 on ABC.

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