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Everything to know about the star-studded film adaptation of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

The highly anticipated Scorsese film premieres October 20.
/ Source: TODAY

Murder, money and mystery: Martin Scorsese's next film promises to be an epic retelling of a tragic chapter in the nation's past.

The official trailer for the Oscar-winning director's upcoming thriller "Killers of the Flower Moon" was released July 5.

The film is based on the bestselling 2017 book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by journalist David Grann. The nonfiction title was named one of the top 10 nonfiction books of that year by Time Magazine.

“It will sear your soul,” Dave Eggers wrote in a 2017 review of the book for the New York Times.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” has a lot to live up to — but early reports indicate that the film won’t disappoint fans of Scorsese or of the source material.

This movie is already generating buzz

At its premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in May, “Killers of the Flower Moon” received an extended standing ovation.

Jacqueline West, the film’s costume designer, spoke in March about her experience working on the film during a masterclass at the Doha Film Institute. Afterwards, she revealed behind-the-scenes details of the movie to Deadline.

According to West, Leonardo DiCaprio, who stars in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” told her that the film was a “masterpiece.”

“I was talking to Leo about it. We had lunch before I came here. He said, ‘Jackie, I think we worked on a masterpiece’. I thought for Leo to say that, was something,” she said. "He doesn’t say that lightly. He has been in the business since he was a little boy.”

 Is “Killers of the Flower Moon” based on a true story?

Yes, "Killers of the Flower Moon" chronicles the tragedy of the Osage murders in 1920s Oklahoma.

When lucrative oil deposits were discovered on land owned by the Osage Nation, citizens of the Native American tribe rapidly became some of the wealthiest people in the country at the time.

However, newly moneyed citizens of the Osage quickly began to die under suspicious circumstances. As the death toll grew, J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigations, sent in former Texas Ranger Tom White to investigate the murders.

The vast, deadly conspiracy to kill citizens of the Osage to take over their land, which was uncovered by White, still affects the nation to this day.

Who stars in “Killers of the Flower Moon?”

"Killers of the Flower Moon" boasts a star-studded cast alongside Oscar-winning director Scorsese.

West also praised the cast’s performances to Deadline.

“The native cast was incredible and the acting, Lily Gladstone is incredible,” she said. “The images were thrilling. It looks amazing. I watched it all being shot but I haven’t seen any of it.”

The film brings together an ensemble cast that is no stranger to working with each other. De Niro and Scorsese have collaborated on a whopping total of 10 feature films, and DiCaprio starred in six of Scorsese’s movies before his role in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Here's what you need to know about the film's stars and their characters.

Robert De Niro

Killers of The Flower Moon
Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon."Melinda Sue Gordon / Apple TV+

Robert De Niro stars as unscrupulous businessman William Hale, who has his sights set on the money brought in by the Osage oil deposits.

De Niro and Scorsese have a long history of making successful movies together. Aside from "Killers of the Flower Moon," Scorsese and De Niro collaborated on lauded films including "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Raging Bull" (1980), "Goodfellas" (1990), "Casino" (1995) and "The Irishman" (2019). De Niro won his second Academy Award for his role in "Raging Bull."

Leonardo DiCaprio

Killers of The Flower Moon
Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon." Melinda Sue Gordon / Apple TV+

DiCaprio, who also co-produced the film, plays Hale’s nephew, Ernest Burkhart, whose loyalties are split between his family and his ambition.

DiCaprio has starred in several other Scorsese films, including "The Departed" (2006), "Shutter Island" (2010) and "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013).

In a 2019 interview with Deadline, the Oscar-winning actor expressed his excitement for "Killers of the Flower Moon" and described the film as "one epic master orchestra" led by Scorsese.

DiCaprio told Deadline in the same interview that De Niro, who he has also previously worked with, is one of his biggest inspirations as an actor.

"There were a lot of great actors I really fell in love with, but if I were to pick two, from different generations, it would be De Niro and James Dean," DiCaprio said.

Lily Gladstone

Killers of The Flower Moon
Lily Gladstone and Martin Scorsese in "Killers of the Flower Moon."Melinda Sue Gordon / Apple TV+

Lily Gladstone takes on the role of Mollie Burkhart, Ernest’s wife and Osage oil heiress. Mollie is caught in the middle of a deadly struggle over the Osage oil money, and her coveted wealth puts her life in peril.

Gladstone, who is of Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage, grew up in Montana on the reservation of the Blackfeet Nation.

In a March interview with Empire, Gladstone pushed back against the notion of "Killers of the Flower Moon" as a traditional "Western."

To Gladstone, the story is better described as “a great American tragedy.”

“With natives and Westerns, we are so dehumanized that it just kind of feels like we’re part of the landscape — instead of humans that are telling a story,” she said.

Jesse Plemons

Killers of The Flower Moon
Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons in "Killers of the Flower Moon."Apple TV+

Jesse Plemons portrays Tom White, the former Texas Ranger determined to bring the killers and their cronies to justice.

Plemons won acclaim for his leading role in "The Power of the Dog" (2021), which also starred his wife, actor Kirsten Dunst. He was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for the role.

Plemons also played a supporting role in Scorsese's "The Irishman."

When and where will “Killers of the Flower Moon” be released?

“Killers of the Flower Moon” will be available to view in select theaters on October 6 before a general release on October 20.

There are also plans to release the movie for streaming on Apple TV+ at an unspecified later date.