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What Kirsten Dunst Felt Was Her Biggest Challenge On The Power Of The Dog

Based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, "The Power of The Dog" is a compelling period drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. The film focuses on the lives of the Burbank brothers, Phil (Cumberbatch) and George (Plemons), who own and operate a thriving cattle ranch in Montana. Set during the early 20th century, the film touches on themes like masculinity, sexuality, family, and jealousy. The film's main conflict centers around George's decision to marry an innkeeper named Rose Gordon (Dunst), who comes to live on the Burbank ranch with her son, Peter (Smit-McPhee). Phil immediately dislikes these new additions to the household and Rose soon begins to feel the pressure under Phil's watchful eye.

Rose goes through several emotional and physical changes throughout the film as Phil's belittling attitude drives her to alcoholism. Although Kirsten Dunst was not the first actor who was offered the film's lead female role, she knocks it out of the park as Rose. However, portraying the character did present some challenges as Dunst was preparing for the role.

Rose's anxiety around Phil was difficult for Dunst to evoke

According to Kirsten Dunst, the most daunting task she faced while filming "The Power of the Dog" was creating the tension between her character and Cumberbatch's, despite the fact that the actors didn't interact much on set. 

"My big challenge was trying to make my own monster in my brain because Benedict and I don't really have scenes together, so all of the fear and anxiety that he gives me, I had to create that. I drew upon a lot of old things about myself or how other people would make me feel," Dunst told The Hollywood Reporter.

Although Dunst and Cumberbatch don't share many scenes in the movie, the actors depict their character's tenuous relationship with skillful and nuanced performances. In fact, Cumberbatch was so dedicated to playing Phil that the role made him physically ill. As Rose succumbs to her depression, Phil's relationship with her son Peter only grows stronger. This shifting family dynamic lies at the heart of the film, eventually reaching a boiling point that rocks the foundation of the Burbank family. 

If you want the chance to see Dunst's portrayal of Rose for yourself, you can watch "The Power of the Dog" on Netflix.