Martin Scorsese Explains His ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Cameo

It comes at the tail end of his historical epic

Killers of the Flower Moon
Lily Gladstone and Martin Scorsese on the set of "Killers of the Flower Moon" (Apple)

One of the bigger surprises in Martin Scorsese’s historical epic “Killers of the Flower Moon” is the last-minute minute cameo by Scorsese himself. He speaks the final words of the movie, which we will not spoil here but to say that it is powerful, profound and the only way the movie could have ended is an understatement. In a press conference on Wedneday, Scorsese was asked about the cameo and what it meant to the rest of “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Scorsese said that the moment (which he described as “Eric Roth’s version” of an actual radio show) was captured following completion of principal photography. It was filmed in New York “where the radio shows did take place.” In the sequence, Scorsese plays a member of a troupe retelling the “Reign of Terror” that befell the Osage Nation (and is the story that makes up most of the film).

“I was taken by the impact of the realization that all of this generation’s suffering and genocide and trauma, betrayals, love, hate, all of this is reduced to a half hour piece of entertainment,” he said. “And somehow I had to find a way to make the transition, have something as shocking as the radio show, to bring this back to the heart of the picture.”

When faced with how to make the moment come to life, he said, ”I honestly didn’t know how to direct it. Being there in New York, after coming back from Oklahoma, and editing the picture a little bit and shooting it at my old high school (Cardinal Heights High School), and my wife and my one of my daughters and my granddaughter out there, coming to visit… something hit home as I was repeating the lines, and I felt in an odd way that this is a film [that] one could say it’s entertainment. In a way we make the entertainment now, but it’s on people’s lives. It’s on peoples’ souls, basically. And we have to remember that and to keep that in balance.”

Scorsese continued, getting more introspective. “In a funny way, there’s a culpability that I felt, but that’s me. I thought, ‘Well, maybe after going through the readings of it, I felt secure then that I didn’t have to reshoot it with another actor,’” he said.

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro, is in theaters now.


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