Elisabeth Moss Opens Up About Missing Out On The Power Of The Dog

Jane Campion's film "The Power of the Dog," adapted from the novel by Thomas Savage, was first announced to the public in a 2019 article in Variety. Later that year, Paul Dano was announced to star, with Moss dropping out because filming conflicted with her schedule on the hit TV series "The Handmaid's Tale." The cast would eventually include Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst in the Dano and Moss roles. (Benedict Cumberbatch was set to star all along.) "The Power of the Dog" ended up being nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (twice), and Best Supporting Actress for Dunst. Campion's Best Director Oscar was the only Academy Award the film received.  

The character Moss was originally going to play, and which Dunst ultimately did, was Rose Gordon, a widow with a son tilting into adulthood. She remarries the Plemons character, only to find a complex web of social pressures and expectations aggressively laid on her unwittingly by her husband and very much wittingly by his rancher brother (Cumberbatch). The rancher's reasons for pressuring Rose slowly become clear over the course of the film.

Moss and Campion had previously worked together on the Australian detective series "Top of the Lake," which aired for two seasons in 2013 and 2017 and is currently available to stream on Hulu. In an interview with Empire, Moss revealed how unhappy she was that she was not able to act in "The Power of the Dog," and how much she wanted to work with Jane Campion again.

"I wish, I wish, I wish"

Moss was open about her regret, but also that she and Campion remained amenable and understanding throughout the process of her casting and then having to leave.

 "I mean, I'm not gonna lie. I wish... I wish... I wish... I could have done it. Of course it's hard because I really, really wanted to do it and Jane and I talked about it for a couple of years. But she and I have been very kind to each other in that process, knowing that sometimes these things just don't work out, and it's not really anyone's fault."

Additionally, Moss has no animosity toward Dunst for taking the role. It was, after all, a good role and an opportunity to ably ply one's trade. Dunst's performance in "The Power of the Dog" is remarkable. And Moss, like so many in the world, loves Dunst as an actress:

"I was actually so happy that Kirsten was doing it because I respect her so much as an actress. I think if that role had gone to somebody that I didn't love, I don't think I would have liked that. And obviously it's such a beautiful film. In the end, I'm happy that it happened the way that it did, but I would say my only desperate desire is to work with Jane again.

Campion took four years in between seasons of "Top of the Lake," and 2022 would mark about five years since season two. It's entirely possible that Moss and Campion could reunite for a third season.

"I've told her multiple times: Just say the word. Let me know what country to be in, and I'll be there."

Given that Campion just won an Academy Award, it's likely audiences would be, too.