Benedict Cumberbatch's Learned Skill For The Power Of The Dog Is Grossing People Out

To say that Benedict Cumberbatch has had quite an unusual experience preparing for his role in "The Power of the Dog" would be an understatement. The actor, who played a 1925 Montana rancher with sadistic tendencies, had adopted a handful of new skills in order to give justice to his character.

For starters, he learned how to roll cigarettes using only one hand and embraced an intense smoking habit. It's gotten to the point that he incurred nicotine poisoning from smoking so much in a day. "Filterless rollies, just take after take after take ... When you have to smoke a lot, it genuinely is horrible," he told Esquire. Cumberbatch even refused to bathe during filming so the smell of smoke would stay on him. "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," he recalled.

The "Doctor Strange" star also enlisted in "dream therapy" to get into his character. "We did dream analysis, which is a real trip, the idea that you can just drop a tiny suggestion on a notepad or in a mantra or some kind of thought process before you sleep and then let your subconscious do some of that work," he said, per Glamsham. Cumberbatch isn't clearly one to shy away from trying something new to embody a role, which is why he didn't back out from learning how to castrate a bull during his preparation period.

Benedict Cumberbatch learned how to castrate a bull

Benedict Cumberbatch was so dedicated to perfecting his role as a rancher that he willingly learned how to castrate a bull from a real Montana cowboy, Randy Rieman. Speaking to The Times, Rieman said that he admired how the actor didn't show any hesitation learning something new. "He was a really great sport. He was clearly quite intimidated because it was so far removed from his normal environment," he said. "But he was brave and he was game. He was just as bloody and dirty as the rest of us by the end."

On top of castrating a bull, Cumberbatch learned how to play a banjo, make horseshoes, and build wooden furniture. He also learned how to manage a herd of cattle, which came in handy at one point. "I came back from shooting the film in August, and we were off to the beach. To get there we had to cross a field, and in the field was a petrified family who just couldn't move. They were frozen because of a herd of cows with calves," he said on the "Graham Norton Show" (via Insider). "I thought, 'I can do this,' and I just sort of parted the waves of cattle. The family was like, 'That was incredible. Hey, aren't you Sherlock?'"

A lot went on to preparing for the movie, but Cumberbatch said that he wouldn't have it any other way. "Everything you see in the film, I learned," he told Variety. "'Learned' is a big word. I did it and I experienced it."