Skip to main content

What's Actually Going On With Leonardo DiCaprio Switching Roles In Martin Scorsese's Killers Of The Flower Moon

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street
(Image credit: (Paramount))

Martin Scorsese’s follow-up to The Irishman is on the way, and it will mark the filmmaker’s sixth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio on a film. The Oscar-winning actor has been attached to star in Killers of the Flower Moon with Scorsese for some time, but as was reported late last year, he will no longer be playing the same role he originally signed on for. The film’s screenwriter, Eric Roth, has cleared things up regarding the decision for the actor to switch characters.

In the process of getting Killers of the Flower Moon ready to start production, the Forrest Gump and A Star Is Born writer and Leonardo DiCaprio apparently had some arguments with one another regarding the script. Eric Roth commented at the time that he “won half” of them, but some rewrites were ultimately made. Now everything is in place and the movie is expected to begin production next week. Roth said this about the process:

I think this is my fifth year or six year on it. And there were some changes that came about that were interesting about what Leonardo was going to play in it. I think in the long run — we all had our moments of trying to figure out how best to portray things because the story is so impactful — and I think we ended up with exactly the right material and that Marty made the right decisions. I just think he's going to make — and obviously I would say this — but I think [of] all my work, this one could be one of the great movies. I really mean that. I think it has all the ingredients, which I don't want to jinx it, but the story is so important.

Killers of the Flower Moon is an adaptation of the 2017 book by David Grann, which tells the true story of the Osage Murders that took place in 1920s Oklahoma and inspired a major FBI investigation. Considering the movie will follow a real event, Eric Roth and the other filmmakers involved spent a lot of time fine-tuning the script. As a result, DiCaprio backed out of his previous role, which was given to Jesse Plemons. Roth continued with these words to Collider:

I wouldn't say [Plemons is] the lead. I would say that he was the designated hero. But yeah, I think that's fairer because I think the parts are pretty equal and they were always equal to a certain extent, and Leo's part is very complicated and very interesting. It's a smart part for a smart actor to play. I mean, if Montgomery Clift was alive, I think he might think of playing him.

According to Eric Roth, DiCaprio and Plemons’ role will have about equal screen time as well. Instead of the Wolf of Wall Street actor playing the “hero” of the story, he will play a more complicated character in Killers of the Flower Moon. Jesse Plemons will play Tom White, a special agent on the Osage murders case, whilst Leo DiCaprio is reportedly playing Ernest Burkhart, who is directly connected to the crimes.

Killers of the Flower Moon is reportedly budgeted at $200 million and will be produced for Apple TV+ following Martin Scorsese’s work with Netflix for The Irishman in 2019. Also joining the project is Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Tantoo Cardinal and Sturgill Simpson. Eric Roth is boasting the movie as a massive Western project that will be “one for the ages.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s last film was 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and he recently wrapped his work on Netflix’s Don’t Look Up with Jennifer Lawrence, which is expected to come out later this year. Killers of the Flower Moon is likely to be released in late 2022.

Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.