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Martin Scorsese Praises Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘One of the Greatest Actors in the History of Movies’

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have worked closely together for nearly a quarter of a century starting with “Gangs of New York” and now, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” their sixth feature film together. DiCaprio stars in the film as Ernest Burkhart, who served as a hitman for his uncle (Robert De Niro) while being involved in the Osage murders in 1920s Oklahoma. At the National Board of Review Gala in New York City on January 11, Scorsese accepted the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, while Lily Gladstone also won Best Actress for her portrayal of Mollie Burkhart.

IndieWire shares an exclusive video below from the NBR gala featuring Scorsese’s speech, in which he singles out his star DiCaprio as “one of the greatest actors in the history of movies.” DiCaprio is in the Best Actor conversation for “Killers,” which began streaming on Apple TV+ January 12. For Scorsese’s films, DiCaprio was previously nominated for “The Aviator” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” in the category.

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“He couldn’t make it here tonight for a really good reason … He’s right in the center doing prep for Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film. Originally, Bob De Niro told me about Leo DiCaprio when he worked with him in ‘This Boy’s Life.’ He said, ‘You gotta work with this kid one day.’ And at that time, De Niro never really recommended anyone to me. So in 23 years, we made six pictures together now… I have faith in him. I know I can depend on him. His immersion in the process of the person who’s trying to play within the story is full. His fearlessness is something which has given me life when I make a film,” Scorsese said.

He continued that, with DiCaprio, there is “a maddening, relentless search for what might be the truth of every character he plays. You know, he’s a genius in terms of cinema really is, and you could see it in the face. You could see it not only through the eyes, but he has the face of cinema. He doesn’t have to say a word. It’s all there. You could see it in all his films that he’s made going from ‘This Boy Life’ to the ‘Gilbert Grape’ picture, which was wonderful, all the way through the extraordinary ‘The Revenant.'”

Scorsese added, “By the time we did ‘Aviator’ and ‘Departed,’ I felt a kind of resurgence of my own certain resurgence of my own energy, really, and in many ways, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is a culmination of all that work together. All the way up to the end when he’s at the witness stand. I knew I could just hold the camera on him and not cut away because I knew he would convey everything that was at that decisive moment. And we did one take, and I was moved on set, and that was it. One take, so I see him digging deeper into the corners of a human experience that many of us really can’t even bear to even acknowledge the weakness and the delusions of this guy in the film. You hate him but you tend to also love him … all the contradictions of what it is to be human. I really know he’s one of the truly one of the greatest actors in the history of movies. I thank him for everything.”

Martin Scorsese Accepts NBR Award for "Killers of the Flower Moon"
Martin Scorsese Accepts NBR Award for "Killers of the Flower Moon"

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