A large owl with orange eyes and tufts of feathers over its ears perches on a branch in a meadow.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Introduces a New Feathered Star

Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, is being hailed as a masterpiece. Along with its already stunning cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, the movie is a breakout role for an owl named Elisheva, or Eli for short.

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Killers of the Flower Moon, based on the book of the same title by David Grann, tells the story of the Osage people of Oklahoma in the 1920s. After they find oil on their reservation, the Osage tribe becomes rich, but white men soon begin plotting to steal their headrights from oil companies by murdering members of the tribe, leading the FBI to investigate.

Killers of the Flower Moon has earned critical acclaim for its ambitious scope and stark portrayal of America’s racist history. However, the film has also prompted backlash from some Native viewers like Reservation Dogs star Devery Jacobs for its graphic depictions of racist violence and its centering of white perspectives.

In one scene in Killers of the Flower Moon, an owl, played by Eli, flies into a bedroom window. Eli is a three-year-old Eurasian eagle owl who works with falconer Donovan Meeks in S. Louis, Missouri. According to Meeks, five owls auditioned for the role, and Eli was eventually chosen. The part may seem simple to a human actor, but Meeks had to make sure Eli would cooperate with her stage directions.

Eli didn’t just nail the part—she was also popular among her fellow cast members. “Leonardo DiCaprio actually stopped his part of the movie just to come over and watch Elisheva,” Meeks told St. Louis news station KMOV4.

According to St. Louis Magazine, Meeks originally adopted Eli from a wildlife rehabilitation center, where she had imprinted on humans. Eurasian eagle owls can live up to 50 years, which means that she and Meeks will likely be bonded for life. The Eurasian eagle owl is one of the largest owl species on Earth, with wingspans that can reach up to six feet. True to their name, their habitat stretches across much of Europe and Asia.

(featured image: mynewturtle / Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>