A particularly jarring scene in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon wasn’t in the initial script for the film, at least according to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
The film, led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone, is an adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 book of the same name. As those who've read the book will note, there is no instance of anyone being struck with a paddle. In the film, however, DiCaprio's character Ernest Burkhart is indeed paddled as punishment by Robert De Niro's character (and Ernest's uncle) William King Hale.
Speaking with Jason Guerrasio for Insider, Prieto said he doesn’t think this moment was in the first version of the script but was instead added later. When it came to filming the scene, Prieto added, he realized the potential pain DiCaprio must have been feeling during the multiple takes despite the Oscar winner wearing padding.
"I do remember doing them quite a few times and thinking, 'Oh, that must hurt,'" Prieto told Insider. "There was some padding on his butt. But you could tell De Niro was really hitting him."
Prieto further praised DiCaprio, whose filmography has repeatedly proven him as an actor always willing to do what it takes to bring a director’s vision to life, as an artist whose “game for so much” and will “do anything.”
Scorsese fans will note that Prieto's own filmography is a decidedly stacked assortment, complete with a trio of Oscar nominations for his work on Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and Scorsese's Silence and The Irishman. He first worked with Scorsese on The Wolf of Wall Street, also starring Leo. More recently, he brought his cinematographic prowess to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.
Killers of the Flower Moon is in theaters now. The critically lauded drama, distributed by Apple and Paramount, centers on the murders of Osage Native Americans in Oklahoma in the 1920s. Reviews have been especially kind to DiCaprio, with IndieWire’s David Ehrlich saying in a post-Cannes review back in May that his turn as Ernest Burkhart is "the best performance of [his] entire career."