There is quite a lot of anticipation surrounding Scorcese's upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon, based on the nonfiction book of the same name by David Grann. Not the least of which being it's the legendary filmmaker's first foray into the Western genre in his 50+ year career, nor the fact Scorsese worked to make sure it was authentic in production design and culturally (to the point it's being shot on-location where the events of the true story took place). In any case, in a bit of a surprise, despite the production having just begun late-last month (and expected to run for seven months), Vanity Fair has released a first look image that features Leonardo Dicaprio and co-star Lily Gladstone in character. Check it out below:
The film already got some press when screenwriter Eric Roth spent over six months rewriting the script, reportedly at the request of DiCaprio who wanted a more complex character to play than the book's protagonist, FBI agent Tom White (Now played by Jesse Plemons) who investigates a series of murders in Oklahoma in the Osage Nation in the 1920's following Osage discovering a wealth of oil underneath their land. Another aspect to this true story, which is written about in the Vanity Fair article, is “it wasn’t possible for these Great Plains gangsters to kill their way into these riches. Only by marrying into the tribe could the rights be legally claimed by outsiders.” This is where DiCaprio's character Ernest Burkhart, nephew of brutal rancher William Hale (Played by Robert De Niro), comes into play.
The image shows DiCaprio’s Burkhart in an early scene with his soon-to-be bride Mollie Kyle. In real-life, the pair married in 1917 and, as the article emphasizes, “many of Mollie’s closest family members would die under violent or mysterious circumstances, consolidating wealth in her hands. Meanwhile, her husband and his family’s coldblooded scheme closed around her.” In other words, DiCaprio's character (who is being marked as a co-lead to Plemons' Tom What) will be a morally ambiguous villain. Reportedly, this is why Paramount, who were originally set to distribute the film, lost interest as they worried that audiences wouldn’t want to watch DiCaprio play a bad guy in such a big-budgeted movie (estimated at over $200 million). This is how to project ultimately ended up at Apple (Where DiCaprio's Appalachian production company has now signed a lucrative deal with).
No release date has been given and if the film does get done in it's expected time, it will have only a month for Scorsese to edit the film in hopes of qualifying for next year's award season. At this point, it's a curiosity whether the film will be submitted this year or next. No doubt, Apple will not want to waste a Scorese-Dicaprio collaboration, but anything is game at this point. Stay tuned!