Robert De Niro's Sleep-Talks in Osage Language During Film Prep

Exploring cinematic dedication, Robert De Niro's latest role reveals

by Zain ul Abedin
Robert De Niro's Sleep-Talks in Osage Language During Film Prep
© Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

In an exclusive feature with PEOPLE magazine, Hollywood veteran Robert De Niro reveals the extraordinary lengths he went to in preparing for his latest role in the acclaimed film, "Killers of the Flower Moon." Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film delves into the chilling Reign of Terror in 1920s Oklahoma, showcasing a dramatic narrative based on true events.

De Niro, known for his unwavering dedication to his craft, portrays William Hale, a character whose outward benevolence masks his sinister plot against the Indigenous Osage people to usurp their oil-rich land. His transformative journey in this role echoes his iconic performances in classics such as "Raging Bull" and "Taxi Driver," where his method acting approach set new standards in the industry.

In his conversation with PEOPLE, De Niro shares the rigorous process of immersing himself in the Osage language, a pivotal element of his character. His co-star, Lily Gladstone, who plays Mollie Burkhart in the film, recalls De Niro's relentless efforts, saying, "He was spending every waking minute trying to get it right." The dedication extended beyond his waking hours, as De Niro's partner, Tiffany Chen, humorously noted his tendency to mumble in Osage during his sleep.

De Niro's Language Mastery

Director Martin Scorsese, who marks his tenth collaboration with De Niro in this film, praises the actor's relentless pursuit of authenticity. "The search and the discoveries never stop," Scorsese remarks, highlighting De Niro's meticulous approach to every aspect of his character.

This deep commitment has not gone unnoticed. De Niro's portrayal has earned him his eighth acting Oscar nomination, a feat achieved by only a select few in Hollywood history. The performance is a testament to De Niro's talent and his ability to continually evolve and challenge himself, even after five decades in the industry.

Reflecting on his journey, De Niro compares his experience of learning Osage to mastering Sicilian for his Oscar-winning role as young Vito Corleone in "The Godfather Part II." Though he had a natural inclination towards Italian, he admits that mastering Osage was a more complex challenge.

"Killers of the Flower Moon," boasting 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, is a testament to the power of dedicated filmmaking. The movie, available on Apple TV+, is not just a cinematic achievement but a narrative that pays homage to a significant, yet often overlooked, chapter in American history.

Robert De Niro