Robert De Niro spanked Leonardo DiCaprio ‘quite a few times’ while filming the shocking paddling scene for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ says cinematographer

  • In one of the movie’s most surprising scenes, Robert De Niro spanks Leonardo DiCaprio with a giant paddle.
  • Rodrigo Prieto told Insider the scene was done numerous times, so DiCaprio took “quite a few” spanks.
  • “You could tell De Niro was really hitting him,” Prieto said.

Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto read “Killers of the Flower Moon” before making the movie, so he was quite shocked when he learned Robert De Niro’s character spanks Leonardo DiCaprio’s character with a giant paddle. (In David Grann’s acclaimed non-fiction book chronicling the Osage Nation murders during the 1920s, there is zero mention of anyone being paddled.)

“I don’t think that was in the first script,” Prieto told Insider of the surprising scene. “That was something that was added, and it’s shocking in the film.”

Robert De Niro standing over Leonardo DiCaprio
(L-R) Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” 
Apple TV+/Paramount

The scene occurs about halfway through the movie. Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio) is led by his uncle, William Hale (De Niro), into a back room. Hale is upset with his nephew, who messed up an element of their plot to murder the wealthy Osage family of Burkhart’s wife, Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone).

Hale punishes Ernest by having him bend over and spanking him with a giant paddle.

“I do remember doing them quite a few times and thinking, ‘Oh, that must hurt,'” Prieto said of the number of takes it took to complete the spanking scene. “There was some padding on his butt. But you could tell De Niro was really hitting him.”

“Leo is game for so much,” Prieto added. “He’ll do anything.”

Prieto wasn’t joking; being spanked with a paddle hardly comes close to the craziest thing DiCaprio has done for a movie.

For his Oscar-winning performance in 2015’s “The Revenant,” the star didn’t just deal with ice-cold conditions playing a 1820s frontiersman and bear-mauling survivor, he also ate raw bison liver on camera.

The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant.” 
20th Century Fox

Clay Landry, who was the historical and wilderness technical adviser on the film, told Insider at the time that DiCaprio was originally supposed to eat an artificial liver made up of protein bars.

But a few days before shooting the scene, things changed.

“Leo had talked it over and they were going to use a real liver,” Landry said.

DiCaprio won his first (and, so far, only) Oscar for that performance. We’ll see if getting a spanking from De Niro will lead to him earning his second.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is currently playing in theaters.