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DiCaprio originally had a very different role in Scorsese’s new movie

He's such a versatile actor that it should come as no surprise that Leonardo DiCaprio was initially playing a very different role in Killers of the Flower Moon.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon reunites Martin Scorsese with his frequent collaborator, Leonardo DiCaprio, and by all accounts the pair have worked their magic once more. The film was almost very different, though, with initial plans having DiCaprio in another role entirely.

When Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the best actors of all time, joins forces with Martin Scorsese, one of the best directors of all time, you just know something amazing is going to happen. The pair have made some of the best movies of the last 20 years, including The Departed, Shutter Island, and Gangs of New York.

With the Killers of the Flower Moon release date finally here, we are learning all we can learn about the new movie, and thinking about what could have been had DiCaprio stuck to his original role as an FBI agent in the film.

In a piece from The Hollywood Reporter covering the background of the production back in 2020, it’s revealed that DiCaprio was initially pegged to play what is described as “the good guy” as part of the FBI. When the actor and his director decided to “revise the script,” DiCaprio shifted to take on the role of a movie villain instead.

As Ernest Burkhart, the nephew of Robert De Niro’s character in the picture, DiCaprio plays a man “torn between love and the evil machinations of his uncle.” Now, that sounds more like it. I always find DiCaprio more effective when he’s playing a morally-gray character (Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island being a prime example), and Burkhart is definitely one of his most intriguing roles to date.

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Funnily enough, the decision to segue DiCaprio into this role opened up a spot for Jesse Plemons to join the cast, taking on the role of Tom White which was originally held by DiCaprio. When you get the chance to put someone as talented as Plemons in your movie, you do it. Judging by our Killers of the Flower Moon review, all the pieces in this picture are working in perfect harmony, too, so it was a good call by all involved to move things around.

In fact, the film underwent a really big change throughout the production process, with Scorsese deciding to shift the focus away from “all the white guys” and put more attention on the relationship between Burkhart and Mollie, the Native American woman he falls in love with. Putting Mollie in the spotlight also allowed Lily Gladstone to emerge as the standout performer in the whole production – not an easy task when you’re alongside the likes of DiCaprio and De Niro.

After making movies for over 50 years, it’s safe to say Scorsese has pretty flawless instincts when it comes to knowing when things aren’t quite right with a story, or how best to utilize his cast. Speaking of, Scorsese gave us the best news regarding his potential retirement, and we’ve a story on how Marlon Brando tried to persuade Scorsese not to make Goodfellas.

If you’re more of a superhero fan than Scorsese (it’s not hard), then you’re probably excited about upcoming movies like The Marvels. I just hope we can finally stop asking Marty about the MCU.