The 25-year-old actor — who plays the gangly, soft-spoken, feminine Peter in the film — took home the Golden Globes trophy in January for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. The film also earned the award for Best Motion Picture, Drama at the annual event.
“Personally, it isn’t too far from home. I’m a bit strange myself, gone through school like that, and the world of this industry,” Smit-McPhee said during a September 2021 Q&A after a screening of the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Being in front of so many eyes like this, you just have to completely embrace that side of yourself. I saw something in Peter that I looked up to and I wanted to represent.”
In the movie, Peter must deal with his mother’s (Kirsten Dunst) new partner, George (Jesse Plemons), and survive George’s bullying brother Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) all while figuring out where he fits in amid the stereotypical tough guys of western Montana.
“He taught me that we don’t all necessarily have to fit in a box, and that’s OK,” the Australian actor added. “We can be confident about that.”
Two months later, the Golden Globes winner echoed his own sentiments about his dynamic role in The Power of the Dog, telling The Guardian, “I find parallels between Peter and myself.”
He explained during a November 2021 interview, “We don’t necessarily fit in the generalized boxes of society, and there are sides to him that I need to reinforce in my own life; his power and his confidence in who he is. He’s not living up to the expectations of what masculinity and strength are to other people.”
Smit-McPhee later earned a SAG Awards nod for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Peter.
“The Power of the Dog was the most fulfilling and challenging creative experience I’ve ever had, and it would not have been made possible without the fearless leadership of [director] Jane Campion and the complete commitment of every member of the cast,” the Alpha actor wrote via Instagram in January. “This nomination is profoundly humbling and I’m incredibly proud to be a member of SAG-AFTRA.”
The young star also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor while The Power of the Dog is a Best Picture contender.
“I’m so deeply honored. And over the moon to say the least that we were all recognized for our work together,” he wrote via social media in February after being nominated alongside his costar Plemons, 33, for an Oscar. “Jesse/Kirsten/Benedict/Ari and of course JANE. I love you all so much. ❤️.”
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