Tanya Seghatchian interview: ‘The Power of the Dog’ producer
“I fell in love with it overnight,” says producer Tanya Seghatchian about the Thomas Savage novel that inspired writer-director Jane Campion‘s Netflix Western “The Power of the Dog.” “It’s very, very rare when you get a piece of material, for you to feel that it has a complete self to its shape and structure, and that there’s an inevitable but surprising ending.” We talked with Seghatchian as part of our “Meet the Experts” Film Producers Panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
The film tells the story of Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), a rancher in 1920s Montana who resents his brother’s new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and torments them when they move into the family home. “I think that’s the thing you’re always looking for as a producer: something that can take you on a journey which feels really honest and true,” Seghatchian explains about the story.
But while it has a lot of the trappings of the Western genre, “really it’s more of a psychological drama … There are a series of movements within the film that really dig into desire, love, isolation, repression, gender expression, what society forces you to be, the danger of prejudice, what happens when you’re isolated and alone and vulnerable.” And Campion is a “master” at plumbing the depths of those themes, so “it was quite exciting actually to make a film with a male protagonist at the center” that examines “the kind of vulnerabilities and sensitivities that you wouldn’t necessarily imagine would take place on a ranch in the American West.”