Earlier this week, two filmmaking titans gathered for a special conversation. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who last chatted publicly about The Fabelmans, participated in a post-screening DGA talk following a screening of Killers of the Flower Moon. “You are the master of our medium and this is your masterpiece, Marty,” Spielberg told his dear friend.
While the conversation touched on a number of fascinating insights into the making of the historical epic, including how seeing Silence convinced the Osage consultants that Scorsese was the right choice to direct, Spielberg shared a particularly great bit: “It’s so amazing to see Bobby D and Leo D in this film together. This is your sixth collaboration with Leo and your eleventh with Bobby. You are only three films shy of tying the record with John Ford, who directed John Wayne fourteen times, so you can’t quit yet with Bobby.”
Speaking more about Ford and the Western genre, Scorsese went into detail on the original iteration of the project, which would have found DiCaprio playing the Tom White character, which eventually went to Jesse Plemons, and focused more on the FBI. “The problem, Steve, is the western. I love the Western genre, as you do. I grew up on it, and you did to. It ended with Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. That was the end of that world in a way. It’s a new world. The Western has to be something else. So there’s no way I could do a Western. I never saw myself going anywhere near Hawks or Ford or Boetticher or any of those guys.”
He added, “So for me, I found that by pursuing the story from the point of view of the FBI––a guy gets off the train, he’s got beautiful boots, tilt up, he’s got that Stetson, he’s got that great tie, and goes into town and tries to figure out what’s going on and who did it. Number one: it’s not who did it. It’s who didn’t do it. It’s the whole town, everybody. We’re all complicit in this. We really are. We’re standing here now. I feel that. I feel we’re all complicit in what’s happened, in how the country was formed, our culture, everything. Number two: having Leo play that part. I would tilt up from the boots, go to his face. He walks into town. He says nothing…. well, we never work that way. And I’ve seen it before. I saw it was more like a Randolph Scott or early Clint Eastwood, quite honestly.”
Scorsese also expanded upon the notion of his own complicity in the story and particularly the final sequence, saying the radio show is “my own belief of being complicit in enjoying the entertainment. Even this film is entertainment in that sense. I tried to make it as honest as possible. Therefore we had to end it with one of those radio shows where you see, after all this, this is what the American public was led to think of or believe of this situation. And in the middle of the show it suddenly becomes an epilogue. Because if it’s really 1936 in a radio studio how could the announcer know that Bill Hale died at the age of 87?”
Watch the conversation below and we’ll update if an official video arrives.