Brendan Fraser as W.S. Hamilton in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Martin Scorsese Shouldn’t Have To Defend Brendan Fraser’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Performance

The performance that seems to be getting a lot of negative backlash in Killers of the Flower Moon comes from Oscar-winner Brendan Fraser. Following the release of Martin Scorsese’s latest, some online mocked Fraser’s performance and began making jokes about taking his Academy Award back. Why? I don’t know, but Scorsese has his back.

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Fraser plays W.S. Hamilton, a lawyer who comes in to defend William “King” Hale (Robert De Niro) when the FBI begins building a case against him. What fans don’t like about Fraser’s performance is that he’s bombastic and loud, causing a scene in the courtroom and yelling at Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a way that Ernest can understand. It works for the film despite what some of Fraser’s critics say. Now, Scorsese has defended Fraser’s take on the role.

“We thought he’d be great for the lawyer and I admired his work over the years,” Scorsese said at a press conference to promote Killers of the Flower Moon (via Variety). “He actually came in for I think a couple of weeks on the picture, particularly when it was in our later shoot. We had a really good time working together, particularly with Leo. Particularly in the scene where he says, ‘They’re putting a noose around your neck, he’s saving you dumb boy.'”

Scorsese went on to talk about the scene as a whole and why it works in the film. “Really for us, when we heard that … he brought the whole scene down on Leo. It was perfect,” said Scorsese, adding, “And he had that girth. He’s big in the frame at that time. He’s a wonderful actor and he was just great to work with.”

The performance works for the character

Hale is facing off against the FBI and fighting for his freedom with all the facts stacked against him. Of course a man like Hamilton is who Hale (and then Burkhart) has representing him. Hamilton’s tactic is to cause a scene. With a man like Ernest, he has to yell in order for it to get through to him. He can’t use the same tactics that the FBI used on him, and calling him a “dumb boy” is the only way to get him to understand.

Fraser’s performance brings a change of pace and feeling during those trial scenes, especially in contrast to the prosecutor (played by John Lithgow). Without that performance, the trial scenes would have faded into the background outside of Burkhart admitting to what he did to Mollie’s (Lily Gladstone) family. Fraser made those scenes work by making Hamilton a character we don’t forget.

The fact that Scorsese had to stand up for his actor is actually ridiculous. Not only is the performance not a bad one, but the fact that the backlash has gone on so long that now Scorsese has to defend Fraser? Why? It’s not offensive, it’s not rude. It’s simply just a performance you either understand and appreciate or you don’t.

It’s frustrating that Scorsese had to even defend it in the first place. Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that Scorsese had Fraser’s back.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures / Apple Original Films)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.