Martin Scorsese shut down request from De Niro on Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon – Official trailer with Leonardo DiCaprio

Martin Scorsese had to rein in his frequent star Robert De Niro while working on Killers of the Flower Moon.

The filmmaker’s latest epic explores the slaughter of a wealthy Native American tribe in Oklahoma known as the Osage and the subsequent investigation by the FBI.

De Niro portrays William ‘King’ Hale, the mastermind behind the scheme to systematically murder and defraud the Osage people to take control of their wealth.

Although Scorsese’s most enduring star has the most antagonistic relationship with the Osage in the film, De Niro himself actually fell in love with the community.

“There’s [been] a new resurgence of the learning of the language,” Scorsese said at the virtual press conference ahead of the film’s wide release this week.

Read more: Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro’s epic new movie hailed as ‘masterpiece’

“We had language teachers there and Lily Gladstone learned the language and so did Leo[nardo DiCaprio].”

DiCaprio portrays King’s nephew Ernest Burkhart, who marries Osage woman Mollie (Gladstone) as part of the white settlers’ years-long plot to take the tribe’s money for themselves.

The director continued: “And so did De Niro, he fell in love with [the language].

“He wanted to do more scenes in Osage, but I suggested maybe it was too much. He just liked the sound of it.”

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Killers of the Flower Moon has already garnered stellar reviews from critics, in particular for its representation of the Osage perspective both on-camera and behind the scenes.

The inclusion of the tribe’s language in several scenes is just one of the ways it brings the Osage Nation’s history to life, in addition to incorporating their culture, rituals and religion throughout the narrative.

“They were all learning again to put their culture back together through this movie,” Scorsese said.

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“And we were going with them. Someone would say, ‘Maybe yes’, another would say, ‘Maybe no’.

“Another would say, ‘You have a little room here to play with it and have some creative license.’

“And that’s the way we did it, every scene that way. And that was done a lot in pre-production and during the shoot. We had that as a basis.”

Killers of the Flower Moon releases in cinemas worldwide on Friday, October 20 and will later be available on Apple TV+. 

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