‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Star Lily Gladstone Calls Film a ‘Double-Edged Sword’ With Script Written by Non-Natives

“You want to have more Natives writing Native stories; you also want the masters to pay attention to what’s going on,” the actress says

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 21: Lily Gladstone and Director Martin Scorsese attend the "Killers of the Flower Moon" press conference at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 21, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Mohammed Badra/Pool/Getty Images)
Lily Gladstone and Martin Scorsese at the movie's Cannes Film Festival premiere (Getty Images)

As an end product, “Killers of the Flower Moon” did not come swiftly for Martin Scorsese and cowriter Eric Roth.

The script for the upcoming film took a wide turn in development, changing tack to focus on members of the Osage Native American tribe.

For Lily Gladstone, her lead role in the film remained bittersweet despite the shift in direction.

“You want to have more Natives writing Native stories,” Gladstone said in an interview with Vulture. “You also want the masters to pay attention to what’s going on. American history is not history without Native history.”

Adapted from David Grann’s nonfiction book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” Scorsese’s next directorial effort centers on the murders of members of the Osage Native American tribe after oil was found on their land. The killings were carried out by a group of white men — Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), John Ramsey (Ty Mitchell) and others, with William Hale (Robert De Niro) as their leader.

Lily said despite her feelings “you don’t say no to that offer” when it comes to starring in a film from the Oscar-winning duo of Scorsese and Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Dune”). But she acknowledged that it’s often a “double-edged sword” when telling stories about Indigenous people.

The film was originally set to focus on Tom White, an FBI agent who was sent from Washington, D.C., to investigate the murders. Gladstone, who is of Native American descent, said the film isn’t another story from Hollywood about a white person coming to save people of color.

“It’s not a white savior story,” Gladstone said of the film, set for an Oct. 20 release. “It’s the Osage saying, ‘Do something. Here’s money. Come help us.’”

In other words, it won’t share a legacy with films that have been questioned over their seemingly “white person in cape saves the day” trope, including such works as “The Help,” “Glory,” “Dangerous Minds” and “The Last Samurai.”

An Osage tribal leader and descendant of one of the Osage victims, Jim Gray, shared the same sentiment as Gladstone in a tweet on May 20 after the film’s Cannes Film Festival debut.

“How was the movie? It was excellent. Scorsese even captured some of our humor,” Gray said. “The performances across the board were Oscar worthy, I mean it. I’ve never seen a movie like this before. No White Savior, nothing needed to be made up. The violence is real and the music of the Osage.”