In the upcoming Martin Scorsese crime movie Killers of the Flower Moon, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart, but he was meant to play a different part.
In an earlier version of the film, which was more centered on the crime narrative line, DiCaprio, 48, was cast to play Bureau of Investigation agent Tom White. His old role is still played by Jesse Plemons in the film, but DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese concluded that the picture needed to focus on Lily Gladstone's character, Ernest's wife, Mollie Burkhart.
"It just didn't feel like it got to the heart of it," DiCaprio remarked in a joint interview with Gladstone, 37, published in British Vogue on Tuesday, September 19. The actor noted that despite presenting the historical event of the murder of 60 or more Osage Native Americans in Osage County, Oklahoma, between 1918 and 1931, the early version of the film lacked the Osage perspective.
"We weren't immersed in the Osage story," DiCaprio continued. At the reading, there was this tiny, small scene between Mollie [as Osage] and Ernest that elicited such emotion in us, and we only just began to go into what that relationship was, since it was so twisted and odd and unlike anything I'd ever encountered before."
DiCaprio and Gladstone play married couple Ernest and Mollie in Killers of the Flower Moon. Ernest marries Mollie at the urging of his uncle Bill Hale (Robert De Niro). Ernest and Bill then devise a scheme to murder Mollie's family in order to get their "headrights," which rewarded them with annual royalties for the oil-rich land they controlled.
The terrible event, according to Dicaprio, is "a completely forgotten part of American history and an open wound that still festers." Gladstone, a direct grandson of Blackfeet Chief Red Crow, noted that the events that inspired the film happened "not that long ago."
During the interview, DiCaprio praised his co-star, recounting how Scorsese, 80, decided he wanted to cast Gladstone after meeting her over Zoom.
The Killers of the Flower Moon crew intended to interact with the real-world Osage population in addition to focusing on an Osage character's perspective in the film. The Osage Nation's Principal Chief, Geoffrey Standing Bear, has completely supported the initiative. On October 20, 2023, Killers of the Flower Moon will be shown in cinemas.