The actor Martin Scorsese is most closely identified with may be Robert De Niro — although before they reunited for The Irishman, the two hadn’t worked together in 24 years — but these days it’s Leonardo DiCaprio. Since 2002’s The Gangs of New York, the director and actor have collaborated a total of five times, including on 2006’s The Departed, the picture that finally nabbed Scorsese his Oscar. But their sixth team-up, Killers of the Flower Moon, ran into some trouble last year, in part because DiCaprio fought for script changes that may have gotten it booted from one company to another.
This comes from IndieWire, who caught the project’s screenwriter, Forrest Gump scribe Eric Roth, on an episode of the podcast Script Notes. Among other things, Roth confirmed rumors that began circulating back in March, namely that the screenplay changed dramatically at the behest of DiCaprio.
Roth said he spent “four or five years” adapting the source, a non-fiction book that recounts the tale of the Osage tribe of Native American people, who discovered oil on their land — thus inspiring every killer in the country to wipe them out. DiCaprio was supposed to play their hero but, as The Hollywood Reporter reported over the summer, he allegedly insisted that he play a more brooding character — the nephew of one of the killers, played by Robert De Niro.
While Roth didn’t confirm all the details — among them that Paramount, who originally was to backed the extremely expensive production, thought DiCaprio’s alleged changes made it less commercial, or “smaller scale; same price” — he did make it clear that the two fought.
“Leonardo wanted some things changed that we argued about,” Roth said. “He won half of [the arguments]. I won half of them.”
Roth also said that rewrites will continue to happen until it finally starts filming in March, a full year after its original production date. Since then the production migrated from Paramount, who produced the Scorsese-DiCaprio hit The Wolf of Wall Street, to Apple. It’s still unconfirmed just how much DiCaprio’s fighting did to cause pre-production headaches — or if those changes will result in a better final picture.