10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Killers of the Flower Moon: Martin Scorsese is one of the most acclaimed film directors in the world. He is best known for his work in the crime genre, particularly the iconic films Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Silence, Wolf of Wall Street, Raging Bull, King of Comedy, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Departed, among others. He has been nominated for several Academy Awards and is considered a master of his craft. His films often explore themes of Italian-American identity, machismo, and violence, and he has become known for his bold and distinctive visual style.
Scorsese is also an ardent admirer of classic Hollywood and world cinema, and his films frequently draw inspiration from the works of past directors such as John Ford, Federico Fellini, and Alfred Hitchcock. Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, is an adaptation of David Grann’s non-fiction book of the same name. It tells the true story of the Osage Nation murders in 1920s Oklahoma. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro as two of the central characters. It follows the investigation into the mysterious deaths of the Osage people and the subsequent legal battle for justice. Killers of the Flower Moon is an intense and powerful film that shines a light on a dark moment in American history.
In this article, let’s take a look at some behind the scene facts about Killers of the Flower Moon, which is a blend of his epic crime films and realistic dramas —
1. The initial script focused on the investigation rather than the relationship between Mollie and Ernest
The book by David Grann, on which the film is based, focused on the investigation into the Osage murders led by Tom White from Federal Police, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as Tom White. But Scorsese decided to take the film in a new direction, and Leonardo DiCaprio suggested focusing on the relationship between Mollie and Ernest. That is when DiCaprio took the role of Ernest Burkhart, and Jesse Plemons became part of the cast, playing Tom White.
2. DiCaprio had to wear pads while getting spanked by Robert DeNiro
In the movie, a simple-mannered and gullible Ernest botches the planning of a murder, and then, in a moment that bewildered audiences, Ernest’s uncle William Hale repeatedly spanks Ernest as a punishment. This was the first instance where Hale truly berates Ernest, and according to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, to ease the blow, DiCaprio wore butt pads under his costume, and DeNiro spanked him with a paddle with genuine force and over many takes. Pads didn’t help that much, did it?
3. DiCaprio improvised one of the most heartfelt humorous moments in the film
During the initial interaction in the film between DiCaprio’s Ernest and Lilly Gladstone’s Mollie, Mollie exasperatedly mumbles some words in Osage language to Ernest’s attempt at advances towards her. During that moment, DiCaprio ad-libbed that she must be calling him “handsome devil,” to which Mollie shares a chortle. This moment is a genuine reaction from Lilly Gladstone, and according to Scorsese, that’s when he saw them as a unit.
4. However, the constant ad-libbing of DiCaprio wasn’t always welcomed
Though the moment of warmth between Ernest and Mollie was welcomed by the director himself, Leonardo DiCaprio constantly ad-libbed his dialogues throughout the course of production. Robert DeNiro became irked by this frequent improvisation and consulted the director. According to Martin Scorsese, “Every now and then, Bob [Robert DeNiro] and I would look at each other and roll our eyes a little bit. And we’d tell him, ‘You don’t need that dialogue.'”
5. Lily Gladstone considered a career change before being cast
Lily Gladstone has been lauded for her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon. However, before being cast in this film, Gladstone seriously considered changing her career. Though she worked with Kelly Reichardt early in her career, after COVID-19, she struggled to find work in the movie industry. Gladstone was about to register for a data analytics course and enter her credit card details when a Gmail notification alerted her about a Zoom meeting with Martin Scorsese. After the meeting with her, Scorsese said, “Let’s not wait another minute.” And cast her as Mollie.
6. Real Osage nation members helped the film crew to bring out actual representation
When the Osage nation members heard that Scorsese was making a film based on David Grann’s book, they made arrangements to meet with the director. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Chad Renfro, who also served as the Osage’s ambassador in the movie, helped create a list of language, customs, and cultural consultants to help Scorsese ensure the film’s accuracy in portraying the Osage tribe. The wardrobe consultant and fellow Osage member Julie O’Keefe even put an ad out looking for Osage women to show off their heirlooms so that the production could get a better idea of some of the materials of the time.
7. The main cast is older than their real-life counterparts
Leonardo DiCaprio is 48 years old as Ernest Burkhart in the film, but in actual life, Ernest was 19 when he returned from war and was only 28 years old when the murders began. He was also 12 years younger than his wife, Mollie. Lily Gladstone is ten years younger than DiCaprio. Also, Robert DeNiro, who plays William Hale as 80 years old, was actually 45 years old during that time.
8. Martin Scorsese appears in the film
Martin Scorsese has a brief background appearance in the film, and his role is framed very unusually. He appears as a radio announcer giving information about the Osage killings, and his cameo will be a delight for the people watching the movie for the first time.
9. Killers of the Flower Moon is not the first film to depict the Osage murders
Although this is the first movie that brought the Osage murders into the limelight, Tragedies of the Osage Hill (1926) was the first film to portray the Osage murders. Later, The FBI Story (1959) had a segment that depicted the Osage murders and featured Native American actors in the cast.
10. This is the most expensive biographical film ever made
The final and most intriguing fact about Killers of the Flower Moon is that it cost around $200 million and is the most expensive movie ever made that is based on a true story, surpassing Martin Scorsese’s previous directorial, The Irishman (2019). The Irishman cost $159 million. This film also surpassed The Matrix Resurrections (2021) as the most expensive R-rated movie ever made (KOTFM’s $200 million in comparison to Matrix 4’s $190 million).