De Niro really spanked DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon

DiCaprio must have been naughty enough on the set of Killers of the Flower Moon for De Niro to actually whack him with a paddle.

Last Updated on October 27, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon

One of the more memorable scenes in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon finds Robert De Niro’s William King Hale disciplining his nephew, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart, with a paddle. And while a little movie magic could have prevented DiCaprio from taking a genuine whooping, according to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, each whack was the real deal.

Prieto – who has lensed all of Scorsese’s films since 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street – told Insider that while DiCaprio did utilize padding on his keister, there were multiple takes of De Niro wailing on his co-star. “I do remember doing them quite a few times and thinking, ‘Oh, that must hurt…There was some padding on his butt. But you could tell De Niro was really hitting him.” Hey, De Niro is known for immersing himself in his roles, and taking a paddle to DiCaprio’s butt is no different.

He added that the moment was never part of either David Grann’s source novel or the Scorsese/Eric Roth-penned screenplay. “I don’t think that was in the first script…That was something that was added, and it’s shocking in the film.” While the moment is a crucial one in the relationship between Burkhart and Hale, we’d like to think it really came about as De Niro wanting to punish DiCaprio for his constant ad-libbing.

Although their big screen collaborations are rare, it does seem rather fitting that their first pairing, 1993’s This Boy’s Life, had a number of tense scenes in which De Niro and DiCaprio get into physical altercations. There were no paddles, but it offers one half of a unique bookend for the two. That movie was also the one where Scorsese first took note of DiCaprio, who he has now made six films with.

Killers of the Flower Moon is well on its way to the Academy Awards and will no doubt earn a wealth of nominations. Reviews have been some of the best of the year, with our own Chris Bumbray giving it a “perfecto-mundo” 10/10.

What is your favorite scene from Killers of the Flower Moon? Give us your spoiler-free pick below!

Source: Insider

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.