Lily Gladstone Slams ‘Yellowstone,’ Talks ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’: “It’s Not a White-Savior Story”

Lily Gladstone got very candid about how she feels about Yellowstone.

In an interview with Vulture conducted ahead of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the Killers of the Flower Moon star opened up about how being a working actor means not always having the freedom to pick and choose material — especially if it’s slim pickings.

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Over the course of her career, the actress has worked on projects by Native and non-Native writers. One project by a non-Native artist that she has a strong opinion on is Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone, Paramount’s series which portrays Native Americans, calling it “delusional” and “deplorable.”

“No offense to the Native talent in that,” she added. “I auditioned several times. That’s what we had.”

The Reservation Dogs actress also explained in the profile that she thinks about which stories of Indigenous people get told and who gets to tell them, noting it can be a “double-edged sword.”

“You want to have more Natives writing Native stories,” she said. “You also want the masters to pay attention to what’s going on. American history is not history without Native history.”

Killers of the Flower Moon, based on David Grann’s book of the same name, takes place in the 1920s and centers on a series of murders in Oklahoma’s Osage Native American tribe after oil is found on their land. The Martin Scorsese film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow and Tantoo Cardinal.

“It’s not a white-savior story,” Gladstone said of the film they ended up making that focuses on the tribe instead of the FBI swooping in to investigate. “It’s the Osage saying, ‘Do something. Here’s money. Come help us.'”

She shared that the fact Scorsese attended a dinner with members of the Indigenous community in Gray Horse, Oklahoma, where some of the murders took place, showed that he wanted to hear from the Osage people, as well as from Gladstone herself. “It was clear that I wasn’t just going to be given space to collaborate,” she explained. “I was expected to bring a lot to the table.”

Elsewhere in the piece, the Oscar-nominated director discussed choosing the actress to play the part of Mollie Burkhart, the female lead of the film, an Osage woman living in the area at the time.

“She had a very sharp sense of her own presence before the camera and an extremely unusual trust in simplicity,” Scorsese said. “That’s a rare thing. You can’t take your eyes off her.”

Killers of the Flower Moon hits theaters Oct. 20.

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