Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have one of the most artistically and commercially successful partnerships in Hollywood, and the new Killers of the Flower Moon marks their sixth collaboration. But the two have different memories of how their relationship began.
“Martin Scorsese and I met for the first time in the early ’90s in, of course, the East Village of New York City,” DiCaprio says in a foreword to the new book Martin Scorsese: A Journey. “I was just 18 years old and [1993’s] What’s Eating Gilbert Grape had just come out. Marty was rushing out of an event as I was walking in.”
DiCaprio says he recognized the Taxi Driver and Goodfellas director right away, “but I had no reason to believe he even knew who I was.”
But Scorsese did recognize him, DiCaprio writes. He says that Scorsese told him, “Hey kid, you did a terrific job in that picture, I hope we get to work together one day.”
DiCaprio adds in the foreword: “I was stunned.”
DiCaprio had long admired Scorsese, because when he wanted to make films, his father, he writes, instructed him to watch the films of Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Killers of the Flower Moon is the first time DiCaprio has worked with both, and is the 10th collaboration between Scorsese and DeNiro, who first worked together on 1973’s Mean Streets.
DiCaprio first worked with Scorsese in 2002’s Gangs of New York, and with DeNiro in 1993’s This Boy’s Life. In that film, DeNiro played DiCaprio’s stepfather. In Killers of the Flower Moon, their first collaboration since, De Niro plays another kind of father figure.
Martin Scorsese on How He First Met Leonardo DiCaprio
In Martin Scorsese: A Journey, a few pages after DiCaprio recalls his memory of their first meeting with Scorsese, Scorsese offers a different version.
“Years ago, DeNiro had called me when they did This Boy’s Life in 1993. He said, ‘This young kid is very good. You’ve got to work with him sometime.’ But I didn’t meet Leo until 1999 when he came to the set of Bringing Out the Dead. Now we’ve been working together for twenty years,” Scorsese is quoted as saying.
Which version is right? We have to go with Leonardo DiCaprio here: No young actor is likely to forget a compliment from Martin Scorsese.
Martin Scorsese: A Journey, out later this month, is written by Mary Pat Kelly, who has known Scorsese since she began exchanging letters with him when she was a nun living at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. She was writing a senior thesis and asked to borrow his short film, “It’s Not Just You, Murray,” to write a comparison with James Joyce’s short story “Grace.”
They soon learned that they shared a fascination with Catholicism and spirituality — Scorsese had spent a year in the seminary before becoming a filmmaker. And, as Kelly notes in Martin Scorsese: A Journey, the director has continued to examine faith and salvation in many of his films, from Mean Streets to The Last Temptation of Christ to Silence to Killers of the Flower Moon.
Scorsese talks about the new film at length in the new film, and while Killers of the Flower Moon will strike some as a departure from is previous work — especially if they mostly associate him with mob dramas — it will feel like part of a journey to supporters like Kelly who have focused on the deeper themes of his films from the beginning.
The film, based on the 2017 nonfiction bestseller by David Grann, tells the true story of an insidious plot to steal the wealth of the Osage Nation after the Native American tribe struck rich from oil. DiCaprio, an executive producer of the film, acquired the rights before bringing the project to Scorsese.
Killers of the Flower Moon is in theaters Friday from Apple.
Martin Scorsese: A Journey, from Hachette Book Group, will be released October 25. The details above are available in the free preview available through Kindle.
Main image: Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theater on February 6, 2014 in Santa Barbara, California, courtesy of Shutterstock.