Jesse Plemons Takes Over DiCaprio’s Original Role in Scorsese’s ‘Flower Moon’ After Script Changes

Jesse Plemons has signed on for a lead role in Martin Scrosese’s big budget Western drama “Killers of the Flower Moon,” in a casting move that reunites the pair after their work together on “The Irishman.” Plemons’ casting confirms last year’s reports that the script for “Flower Moon” was undergoing a drastic overhaul, which is one reason Paramount sold the film to Apple, as the script changes allegedly made the film “less commercial.”

Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Plemons will play Tom White, the lead FBI agent investigating the murders.” The role of Tom White was originally written for Leonardo DiCaprio when the film was being developed for Paramount, the idea being to have DiCaprio star as the traditional good guy of the movie. As THR adds: “Plemons now finds himself in a role that was originally going to be played by DiCaprio before the Oscar-winner segued to a secondary lead.”

During the development of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” DiCaprio pushed to have his role changed from Tom White to the nephew of the movie’s primary antagonist, played by Robert De Niro. As THR reported last May: “Paramount felt [the character change] turned the film into a moody and less commercial character study. … Once Scorsese and DiCaprio revised ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ Paramount empowered DiCaprio’s longtime manager, Rick Yorn, to shop the project.”

Once Apple stepped in to take the film’s financing off Paramount’s hands, the script changes echoed DiCaprio’s original concerns. THR now confirms DiCaprio is set to play Ernest Burkhart, the nephew of a powerful local rancher (DeNiro). “Certain Women” breakout Lily Gladstone is on board as Mollie Burkhart, an Osage married to Ernest.

During a podcast appearance last November, “Flower Moon” screenwriter Eric Roth hinted at the script drama by saying, “That’s supposed to start filming in March once the Covid clears out, and it’s Martin Scorsese. They’ll be continuing rewrites with that. Leonardo [DiCaprio] wanted some things changed that we argued about. He won half of [the arguments]. I won half of them. So that’s happening.”

“Flower Moon” was originally set to begin production in March 2020 but will now kick off filming in May and last through late summer. THR reports Plemons was also offered a lead role in Jordan Peele’s new film, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from signing on to star in both films.

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