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Robert De Niro is literally unrecognizable in Scorsese’s new movie

Robert De Niro has turned in a career highlight for Killers of the Flower Moon, because he fooled actual friends of his in Martin Scorsese's new movie.

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver over a still from Killers of the Flower Moon

Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese have been keeping us entertained together for decades. They’ve been part of Hollywood so long, you think they’d be totally recognizable regardless of what they’re doing. Well, not so much, as proven by Killers of the Flower Moon.

Turns out Robert De Niro gives such a good performance in the new movie, friends of his didn’t fully cop it was him. “There are friends of mine who saw the film and have known Bob for years,” Scorsese tells Entertainment Tonight. “They told me after seeing the film that for the first half hour and 40 minutes they didn’t realize it was Bob. And they know him!”

That’s a real achievement, De Niro’s one of those faces we believe we’d be able to discern anywhere, likewise his voice. But when you’re that good, you’re always finding new tricks. Scorsese and De Niro have been making the best movies for years now, and it’s these kind of surprise that have kept them at the forefront.

We already consider this latest film one of Scorsese’s best, and you can read about why in our Killers of the Flower Moon review. De Niro himself portrays William Hale, a political leader in Oklahoma who oppressed and intimidated members of the Osage Nation through violence, culminated in in a wave of Native American murders.

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He’s the antagonist, in a story that involves the very founding of the FBI. Alongside him are Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone, who play the couple Ernest and Mollie Burkhart, the protagonists. Originally, the story pivoted harder on the FBI and the investigation, but Scorsese and DiCaprio actually rethought it when they realized the love story was the real beating heart of the narrative.

Eric Roth co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese, in what’s shaping up to be one of the best drama movies and one of the best romance movies of the year. The idea that De Niro, this late in the game, still has people surprised by what he’s doing is nothing short of remarkable.

Killers of the Flower Moon opens in theatres October 20. Have a look at our list of the best rom-coms if you want something a little easier, and we have guides to Yellowstone season 5 part 2 and Wednesday season 2 for more easy watching.