Lily Gladstone Nearly Quit Acting Before 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

With the recent popularity of shows like “Rutherford Falls” and “Reservation Dogs,” television has quickly become a home for Indigenous stories onscreen. Even now, though, those and other media remain the exception and not the rule. Consider Lily Gladstone, the actress of Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage who broke onto the scene in 2013 with a role in Kelly Reichardt’s “Certain Women.” A decade later, Gladstone was inches away from leaving the industry altogether before being cast in a leading role in Martin Scorsese’s “Killer of the Flower Moon.”

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In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gladstone shared that she was registering for a data analytics course when the meeting with Scorsese came through. “You just wonder if it’s going to be sustainable,” the actress said. According to Gladstone, this conversation took place in August 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns and the early days of Gladstone’s search for a new career. “So I had my credit card out, registering for a data analytics course.” 

Gladstone had hoped to study the migratory patterns of murder hornets (!) for the Department of Agriculture; instead, she is headlining the most anticipated movie release of the year. In the interview, Gladstone shared her impressions of working with the talented filmmaker as well as her unconventional first introduction to Scorsese’s work as a child. “I was watching some pretty sophisticated things for a kid,” Gladstone told The Hollywood Reporter, noting that the rough winter conditions of her reservation meant more time for movies. “My first Scorsese movie was ‘Kundun.’ My dad loved ‘Kundun.’”

Based on the best-selling novel by author David Grann, “Killers of the Flower Moon” follows a series of murders in Osage County, Oklahoma, after the Osage people discovered oil on their land. The film also stars Leonardo DiCaprioRobert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons and will premiere this weekend at the Cannes Film Festival. “Killers of the Flower Moon” will play in select theaters later this year on October 6, 2023.