Cara Jade Myers Was ‘Flabbergasted’ After Reading ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

“I want to do the Osage right,” the indigenous actress, whose performance in Scorsese’s latest is already garnering Oscar buzz, told Jezebel.

Cara Jade Myers Was ‘Flabbergasted’ After Reading ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’
Cara Jade Myers with Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and the man who ended Marvel. :

In the 1920s, the FBI began investigating a series of abrupt and arcane murders in Oklahoma’s Osage Nation. What the J. Edgar Hoover-helmed agency—with the help of a former Texas Ranger—ultimately uncovered in the aftermath is one of the most egregious conspiracies in American history. The harrowing story, first detailed by David Grann’s novel, Killers of the Flower Moon, is now the basis for Martin Scorsese’s new film of the same name. Cara Jade Myers—a member of the Wichita tribe—portrays one of the lives lost, Anna Brown, who was murdered in 1921.

Through her starring role in one of the most-talked-about films of 2023of which she’s already garnering Oscar buzz—Myers is on the verge of a breakout. The indigenous actress has already been anointed an actor to watch by the likes of Variety and Vogue, and recently walked the red carpet at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (outfitted exclusively in indigenous designers) alongside the living, breathing Hollywood legends that are her co-stars. But Myers—whose past credits include Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, and a series of shorts and indies—is hardly new to the industry.

Cara Jade Myers (second from right) as Anna Kyle in Killers of the Flower Moon. Photo:Apple TV

Equal parts procedural and deeply personal, the film (that boasts a three-and-a-half-hour run time, mind you) details the onslaught of suspicious deaths of the Osage people which, as it turns out, were no coincidence. At the time, the members of the Osage Nation had become the richest people per capita in the world after crude oil was unearthed beneath their land. Because the notion of indigenous people accumulating wealth—and thus, financial freedom—posed a threat and invited white men’s wrath, the federal government appointed guardians who were charged with assisting them in managing their financial affairs. Naturally, corruption ensued and resulted in the violent deaths of at least 60 Osage men and women at the behest of local kingpin and conspirator, William Hale (portrayed by Robert De Niro).

“I was so excited that I booked this role because it’s incredibly amazing and a huge responsibility,” Myers told Jezebel earlier this summer. At the time, the SAG-AFTRA strike loomed large—but Myers was elated to support her writer colleagues on the picket line, to keep creating, and, most of all, for audiences to become acquainted with the righteous rage and resilience of Oklahoma’s Osage Nation via Killers of the Flower Moon.

Over the phone, Myers talked with Jezebel about the kind of collaboration fostered on “Mr. Scorcese’s” set, what she hopes audiences will take away from the film, and how it feels to be “one to watch.” This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

JEZEBEL: Tell me about the first time you encountered this haunting story.

I actually had not heard of it because I grew up in Arizona. I was born in Arizona, I lived in Oklahoma for about the first five years of my life, and then went back and remained in Arizona from then on out. It’s not taught in history. A lot of Native American history is just ignored so I didn’t know much about it. Then I read the book and I was…flabbergasted, I guess is the best word. Infuriated… just how can something be so important and not even mentioned?

Your character, Anna Brown, was obviously a very real woman who was one of the first Osage women to be murdered at the order of William Hale. What about her did you most connect to?

I just love her. She was such a free spirit. She kind of created her own path regardless of what other people said. She was adventurous and excited to see what the new world had for her, but ultimately, that was kind of her downfall.

By now, you’ve been to multiple screenings. Were there any particularly striking reactions from the Osage people seeing their history told for the first time on such a significant scale? What do you hope the audience leaves the theater with upon its wide release?

One of the things I really, really want to get across to the rest of the world is this might be entertainment, but to the Osage, this is something that they live every day. This is their story. When they came out of the screening, they were deeply affected. People would come up and be like, “I’m still processing it.” As much as we get praise for the cast and the directors and everything like that, I want people to realize that this is real. This wasn’t some back-in-the-day thing. When I was speaking with one of my friends, Ed Shaw, he was saying that he remembers as a little kid, his father taking him to a bar and he watched Ernest Burkhart [William Hale’s nephew, portrayed by Leonardo Di Caprio in the film] play poker. Like, this is not that far removed.

Honestly, I’m hoping it sparks conversation because as much as this is a unique story, it’s not a singular story. You talk to any Native American group and they have experienced genocide. I’m hoping that by seeing this film, people will then read the book, and they’ll get more details about the atrocities that happened and hopefully, they’ll start researching in their local areas how local tribes have been affected. That’s really my goal, and I’m hoping that through these conversations, maybe change can happen.

How much involvement did the Osage people have in the production of the film?

They had a super crucial role. They were everywhere behind the scenes, in front of the camera, behind the camera. Everyone that I spoke to was so readily accessible, extremely knowledgeable, and any question we had, they would explain it to us. The Osage people were so incredibly important in telling this story, and I’m just hoping that that shows. There’s little details that maybe only the Osage will pick up but, you know, that’s for them. That’s not necessarily for everyone to see. But I really, really hope people read the book because those little things that maybe you don’t notice or pick up, you’ll read it, rewatch the movie, and then you’ll see.

Were there any on-set conversations that were helpful for you or are indicative of the environment of a Scorsese film set?

I tried to absorb as much information as I could and talking to people really helped. As I said, the Osage were so incredibly receptive and giving that it helped shape these characters so much. There are some kind of general Native American things that everyone kind of does, and so when we would be in hair and makeup—like for a funeral scene—they were trying to put hats on us and we’re like, “No, we don’t do that. That’s not how natives mourn.” They immediately stopped and talked to Scorsese or whoever to say, “This is how they do it.” And he’s like, “Then do it how it’s supposed to be done.” There were so many times that they respected our opinion, and they listened to us and they were so incredibly willing to learn and collaborate that it really made the process amazing and I’m hoping that all sets can be like that.

Variety has named you one of the top 10 actors to watch in 2023, and multiple outlets—including Variety (again) and Indiewire—have identified you as an Oscar contender. How does it feel?

Honestly, it’s crazy. It was extremely unexpected because I think this entire time I’ve been so focused on “Ok, I want to do the Osage right” like, I hope that they are happy with what we produced. I think I was so focused on that I wasn’t even thinking about, “Oh, award season.” I just figured I’m not gonna stress about that at all. But then seeing that, I thought “Oh my goodness, do you see the names I’m around?” I don’t care if it says “long shot.” It’s very surreal.

This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.

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