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In an interview conducted ahead of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the two open up about their collaboration in Martin Scorsese’s epic story in which they play real-life husband and wife Ernest and Mollie Burkhart, a couple living on the Osage Reservation in 1920s Oklahoma amid a tragic time. It’s a rare showing for DiCaprio, who rarely sits for lengthy interviews or covers. He does so this time with Gladstone for writer Afua Hirsch and a shoot by photographer Craig McDean with styling by the mag’s Edward Enninful.
“Lily is absolutely astonishing in this movie,” the Oscar winner says of Gladstone. “She carries the entire film and the story.” He also says that Scorsese knew straight away that she was the right actress for the part thanks to the “truthfulness” he saw in her eyes over a computer screen. “There was no reading. Marty just instinctively knew Lily was the one. … I’ve never known [Scorsese] meet somebody and then immediately afterwards have this gravitational pull and instinct to say, ‘Let’s not wait another minute.’”
The two share the screen with Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion and Tantoo Cardinal in the film about the FBI investigation of a series of murders of the Osage people that took place in Oklahoma in the early 1920s.
“It’s a completely forgotten part of American history, and an open wound that still festers,” DiCaprio says of the story. “Hollywood has a long history and checkered past in its depiction of Native American people. We need to do more. You know, we are coming towards a great reckoning of our past. The more that these stories can be told in a truthful way, the more it can be a healing process.”
The actor also opens up about the retooling Scorsese did on the project, after initially casting DiCaprio to play the FBI agent Tom White, a role that eventually went to Plemons. The filmmaker elected to bring Gladstone’s Mollie to the center of the story. (“After a certain point, I realized I was making a movie about all the white guys,” Scorsese recently told Time.)
“We weren’t immersed in the Osage story,” DiCaprio explains of the initial drafts. “There was this tiny, small scene between Mollie and Ernest that provoked such emotion in us at the reading, and we just started to penetrate into what that relationship was, because it was so twisted and bizarre and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.”
Apple, in partnership with Paramount, has set a global theatrical release date of Oct. 20.