Benedict Cumberbatch is defending his decision to play a gay man in The Power of the Dog. Cumberbatch, who is straight, has played a gay character before. In this film, he stars as a cattle rancher who falls in love with the young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) of a widow (Kirsten Dunst) who recently moved to his ranch.

He reportedly said at the Telluride Film Festival: "I feel very sensitive about representation, diversity, and inclusion. One of the appeals of the job was the idea that in this world, with this specific character, there was a lot that was private, hidden from view."

He knows it’s controversial for a straight man to take on a gay role, having previously played Alan Turing, who is gay, in 2014's The Imitation Game. 

"It wasn't done without thought," he said of being in the same position again. "I also feel slightly like, is this a thing where our dance card has to be public? Do we have to explain all our private moments in our sexual history? I don't think so."

He also deferred to director Jane Campion who "chose us as actors to play those roles," he said. "That's her question to answer."