Even Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t immune to the occasional need for restraint, and his penchant for extensive improvisation during the filming of “Killers of the Flower Moon” drew the attention of his director Martin Scorsese. The amusing anecdote shared by Scorsese reveals how Robert De Niro, DiCaprio’s co-star in the film, was notably affected by this method of working.
“Killers of the Flower Moon,” Scorsese’s highly anticipated crime drama, explores the real-life Osage Nation murders that took place in 1920s Oklahoma after significant oil reserves were discovered on their land. The film marked the first collaboration between DiCaprio and De Niro, both long-time collaborators of the acclaimed director. However, their acting approaches didn’t always align, leading to some amusing situations on set.
Scorsese shared his perspective with The Wall Street Journal, revealing that DiCaprio had an insatiable desire for discussion and improvisation during his scenes with De Niro. “Oh, endless, endless, endless!” Scorsese recounted, emphasizing DiCaprio’s persistent urge to engage in discussions. “Then Bob didn’t want to talk. Every now and then, Bob and I would look at each other and roll our eyes a little bit.”
In the face of DiCaprio’s relentless improvisation, Scorsese and De Niro tried to offer their perspective. “And we’d tell him, ‘You don’t need that dialogue,'” Scorsese revealed. This gentle guidance was perhaps a testament to the extensive collaboration and mutual respect between the veteran director and his actors.
Scorsese and De Niro have a rich history of collaboration, having worked together on some of the most iconic films in cinematic history, including “Taxi Driver” (1976), “Raging Bull” (1980), and “Goodfellas” (1990). They joined forces once again for “The Irishman” in 2019, following DiCaprio’s own prolific working relationship with Scorsese.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” marked DiCaprio’s sixth feature film with Scorsese. Their collaborative journey began when Scorsese cast a 27-year-old DiCaprio in “Gangs of New York” (2002). The duo later worked together on “The Aviator” (2004), “The Departed” (2006), “Shutter Island” (2010), and “The Wolf Of Wall Street” (2013).
For De Niro, “Killers of the Flower Moon” represents his tenth feature film collaboration with Scorsese, and it was a case of life imitating art when De Niro first introduced DiCaprio to the director. De Niro was so impressed by DiCaprio’s performance in “This Boy’s Life” (1993) that he personally contacted Scorsese to express his admiration. DiCaprio’s influence was pivotal, even shaping the director’s approach to “Killers.”
“After two years of working on the script, Leo came to me and asked, ‘Where is the heart of this story?'” Scorsese recounted in an interview with The Irish Times. DiCaprio’s inquiry led to a reevaluation of the film’s focus. The initial script, adapted from David Grann’s 2017 book, had centered on a procedural narrative featuring white FBI agents. However, Scorsese and screenwriter Eric Roth rewrote the script to shift the focus towards a more authentic and truthful exploration of the plight of the indigenous Osage people.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” is set to hit theaters on October 20, eagerly anticipated by film enthusiasts who look forward to seeing the combined talents of these iconic actors and their legendary director.