Robert De Niro slammed former president Donald Trump and compared him to William Hale, the cattleman and convicted murderer featured in Martin Scorsese's upcoming true crime drama Killers of the Flower Moon.
The actor portrays Hale, a prominent landowner on the Osage Indian Reservation who built trust within the Osage community during the 1800s before orchestrating a series of murders to gain control of their oil-rich lands. At a press conference for the film at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, De Niro — joined by Scorsese, costars Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Osage Nation principal chief Geoffrey Standing Bear — paralleled the betrayal to the politics of Trump.
"I don't understand a lot about him," De Niro, long a vocal Trump critic, said of his character. "But people do things. He has to be charming, he has to win people over. Part of him is sincere. It's just the other part where he's betraying [the Osage community]. There's a feeling of entitlement. I guess you could say we became a lot more aware of it after George Floyd, with systemic racism. And so that's what it is. And lo and behold, what happened there that we never knew of while we were there was the Black Wall Street massacre while we were shooting."
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis;Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Robert De Niro; Donald Trump
He continued, "So it's the banality of evil. It's the thing that we have to watch out for. And we see it today, of course, with, we all know who I'm going to talk about, but I won't say the name. Because that guy is stupid. Imagine if you're smart. Even Hale was smart in many ways. And so, it's something that is systemic, and that's the scary part about it."
When Gladstone, who portrays Osage tribe member Mollie Burkhart, pointed out that some Osage community members still believed Hale was a friend and not guilty of the charges against him, De Niro added, "I mean, look with Trump. We see what that is. And there are people who think that he could do a good job. Imagine that. How insane that is."
Paramount Pictures Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
The upcoming film, based on the 2017 book of the same name by journalist David Grann, centers on the Osage County murders during the 1920s and the FBI's subsequent investigation. Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, and John Lithgow also star in the drama, which clocks in at a whopping three hours and 26 minutes. The movie will release in select theaters on Oct. 6 before expanding on Oct. 20 and streaming worldwide on Apple TV+ at a later date.
With additional reporting by Carita Rizzo.
Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.