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Martin Scorsese Revealed the Performance That Made Him Hire Lily Gladstone on the Spot

Mollie (Lily Gladstone) with Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'.

It’s been a handful of months now since Killers of the Flower Moon first reared its head in theaters, but the Lily Gladstone train continues to move along at full speed, and the resulting momentum looks all set to take it the full distance.

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Indeed, Gladstone has long been pegged as the favorite to take home this year’s Best Actress Oscar after her devastating performance as Mollie Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s latest, bringing a profound, piercing, yet quiet gravitas to every scene she inhabited.

It’s clear as day now that Gladstone was destined to fill Mollie’s shoes in Killers of the Flower Moon, but Scorsese was privy to this truth long ago, and he demonstrated that by having the foresight to hire her on the spot—something that longtime Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio claims to have never seen him do before. Speaking in a recent interview with Variety, Scorsese named Gladstone’s performance in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women as the factor that caused him to dust off the big, red, proverbial “hire” button:

“What I saw Lily do in Certain Women—how she commanded the space and the screen and the emotional impact of what appeared to be minimal and very internal—that’s what I was looking for. We had just started developing the character, and I felt that Lily had it in her. That she would seriously find her.”

In Certain Women, Gladstone portrays a character named Jamie; a lonely ranch hand who becomes interested in a woman named Beth (played by Kristen Stewart), who takes a temporary teaching job in the same town Jamie works in. Indeed, Certain Women sees Gladstone show the same intriguing stroke of inner emotional volume that she channels in Killers of the Flower Moon, despite the quietly desperate, awkward Jamie being a far cry from the much more intimidating, powerful Mollie.

Indeed, whether it’s a leading or supporting role, the Gladstone way is a treat to behold, and it seems like only a matter of time before the Academy itself acknowledges that with its top honor.

(featured image: Apple TV+)

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