The Power of the Dog cast features Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee. This info article contains minor spoilers for Jane Campion’s 2021 Netflix movie. Check out more streaming guides in Vague Visages’ Know the Cast section.
Set in 1925 Montana, The Power of the Dog follows a grizzled cowboy named Phil. He speaks fondly of his late mentor Bronco Henry, all the while insulting others about their personality traits, such as his brother George’s new wife, Rose, and her son, Peter. The character study examines Phil’s moral code while heavily implying that his homophobic behavior stems from unresolved personal issues. Here’s every main performer and character in The Power of the Dog, an adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel.
The Power of the Dog Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank
Character Profile: A Montana cowboy who was educated at Yale University. He and his brother George were raised by a man named Bronco Henry aka “Il Lupo.” In the present, Phil pushes people away with his stern demeanor while reflecting about a man who provided emotional (and physical) comfort in the past.
Cumberbatch’s Resume: Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock (2010-17), Khan in Star Trek in Darkness (2013), Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (2014), Dr. Stephen Strange in the MCU (2016-), Louis Wain in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)
The Power of the Dog Cast: Kirsten Dunst as Rose Gordon
Character Profile: A native of Beech, Montana whose husband committed suicide in the past. She runs a local tavern and entertains locals with a pianola. Rose marries Phil’s brother, George, and begins drinking heavily because of her personal insecurities.
Dunst’s Resume: Claudia in Interview with the Vampire (1994), Lux Lisbon in The Virgin Suicides (1999), Mary Jane Watson in the Spider-Man Movie Franchise (2002-07), Justine in Melancholia (2011), Krystal Stubbs in On Becoming a God in Central Florida (2019)
The Power of the Dog Cast: Jesse Plemons as George Burbank
Character Profile: George’s brother. He’s a lonesome man who finds happiness upon marrying Rose. George buys his wife a Mason & Hamlin baby grand piano but discovers that she’s not comfortable performing in public.
Plemons’ Resume: Todd in Breaking Bad (2012-13), Val Dodd in The Master (2012), Ed Blumquist in Fargo (2015), Chuckie O’Brien in The Irishman (2019), Jake in I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
The Power of the Dog Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee as Peter Gordon
Character Profile: Rose’s son. He wants to be a doctor and dissects a rabbit for anatomy education. Peter befriends Phil after previously being insulted by the cowboy because of his demeanor and personality.
Smit-McPhee’s Resume: Boy in The Road (2009), Owen in Let Me In (2010), Jay Cavendish in Slow West (2015), Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), Chris Keller in Interrogation (2020)
The Power of the Dog Cast: Thomasin McKenzie as Lola
Character Profile: A housekeeper. She discovers Peter dissecting a rabbit. Lola has a lively personality and only appears in a few scenes.
McKenzie’s Resume: Tom in Leave No Trace (2018), Elsa in Jojo Rabbit (2019), Mary Hearn in True History of the Kelly Gang (2019), Maddox in Old (2021), Eloise Turner in Last Night in Soho (2021)
The Power of the Dog Cast: Genevieve Lemon as Mrs. Lewis
Character Profile: Lola’s boss. She meets with Native Americans who want to trade goods. Mrs. Lewis informs Rose that Phil likes to burn his hides.
Lemon’s Resume: Marlene Warren in Prisoner (1984-85), Nessie in The Piano (1993), Auntie Dianne in Suburban Mayhem (2006), Mae McSwiney in The Dressmaker (2015), Hazel Easton in Home and Away (2018)
The Power of the Dog Cast: Adam Beach as Edward Nappo
Character Profile: A Native American trader who speaks Shoshone. He and his son meet with Mrs. Lewis. Edward offers gloves to Rose after receiving Phil’s hides.
Beach’s Resume: Kicking Wing in Joe Dirt (2001), Ben Yahzee in Windtalkers (2002), Ira Hayes in Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Nat Colorado in Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Black Hawk in Hostiles (2017)
The Power of the Dog cast also includes Keith Carradine (Nashville, Deadwood), Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, American Horror Story), Peter Carroll (Happy Feet, Crazy Rich Asians), Alison Bruce (Mercy Peak, The Gulf), Sean Keenan (Lockie Leonard, Glitch) and Maeson Stone Skuccedal (Feature Debut).
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.