Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog is emerging as a major player when it comes to awards this year – with the film hotly tipped by many pundits to land a Best Picture nomination at the very least.
The Western arrives on Netflix this week following a short theatrical run and an earlier premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and ahead of the release, star Kirsten Dunst spoke to RadioTimes.com about the changes Campion made from Thomas Savage's 1967 source novel, especially to her character Rose.
“Rose is not as... she's definitely, you know, more full in Jane's script," Dunst revealed. "It was just more... because I think since Jane's a woman she wanted that female energy more throughout it. And it was important for her because she also usually has a female lead, so I think that she didn't want to lose that."
Dunst had been a long-term admirer of Campion before she starred in the film, and she shared a story about how their collaboration had been a long time in the making.
"She gave me a letter in my early 20s about working together, and it never happened," she said. "And her films have always inspired my acting in my own life and have always been references for me as an actress. And so to work with her was really, you know, just like one of those dream opportunities.”
One of the most fascinating relationships in the film is that between Rose and her son Peter, played superbly by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and the young actor told RadioTimes.com he was surprised more people weren't familiar with the source material.
"I'm surprised how it's not more of an American classic in many ways," he said. "Because it's something that – as the movie does – sits with you, it haunts you and it dwells with you. It's very thought-provoking, and it's something you'll enjoy to go on the experience again, whether you read it for a second time or you watch it again."
And speaking about the relationship between Rose and Peter, Dunst revealed how she and Smit-McPhee came up with a method to enhance their understanding of each other during filming.
"When I met Kodi, our energy was very much the same – I just immediately really loved talking to him," she explained.
"And I immediately felt protective of him and all the things that as a mother in the 1920s... when you have a son that could possibly be bullied because of the way he is, you really want to protect them.
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"But also Kodi's character is at an age where you don't really want to share much with your mother either... so Kodi and I had a secret together that we kept from everyone else for the filming. So we would have this other energy that made us connected in an extra way that was our secret."
The Power of the Dog is streaming on Netflix from Wednesday 1st December 2021. Looking for something to watch on telly this evening? We’ve got you covered. Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Movies hub for the latest film news and recommendations.