Why Did DiCaprio Choose a Villain Role in 'Flower Moon'?

Scorsese and DiCaprio Reunite for a Gripping Historical Drama

by Zain ul Abedin
Why Did DiCaprio Choose a Villain Role in 'Flower Moon'?
© Mohammed Badra/Pool/Getty Images

In cinematic brilliance, Martin Scorsese's newest creation, "Killers of the Flower Moon," positions Leonardo DiCaprio in the spotlight, showcasing a transformation from his typical heroic persona to a character shrouded in complexity and moral ambiguity.

Set against the backdrop of the 1920s Osage Nation murders in Oklahoma, the film navigates through a tumultuous period where the Osage people’s newfound oil wealth attracted the greedy attention of White settlers. DiCaprio breathes life into the character of Ernest Burkhart, who finds love with an Osage woman, Molly Kyle, portrayed by the talented Lily Gladstone.

However, this love story turns dark and twisted as Ernest is trapped in a nefarious plot aimed at annihilating Molly’s family and poisoning her. Initially, the script was poised to hone in on the federal investigation of the murders.

However, under Scorsese's visionary direction, the narrative evolved, instead of delving deep into the intricate dynamics of Ernest and Molly’s relationship, shedding light on its ramifications for the Osage community.

DiCaprio's Bold Casting Switch

In an intriguing turn of events, it was DiCaprio himself who proposed a shift in the casting dynamics, electing to embody the morally grey character of Ernest, as opposed to the investigator role he was initially slated for.

This revelation, shared by Scorsese during an interview with WSJ Magazine, underscored DiCaprio’s commitment to storytelling that challenges and provokes. In conversations with CBS News, Scorsese opened up about this pivotal change, stating that it paved the way for a narrative steeped in spite, the likes of which he had never encountered in his illustrious career.

"The story now embraced a level of evil that was both unnerving and unprecedented," he remarked. Elaborating on the thematic essence of the film, Scorsese reflected on the intricate interplay of love, trust, betrayal, and the capacity to love in the face of profound betrayal.

“The crux of it all lies in navigating these intense emotions, deciphering how love and trust can coexist with such a staggering betrayal,” he pondered.