Lily Gladstone, left, as Mollie Burkhart and Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s new film “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Gladstone went to Mountlake Terrace High School. (Photo provided by Paramount Pictures)

Lily Gladstone, left, as Mollie Burkhart and Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s new film “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Gladstone went to Mountlake Terrace High School. (Photo provided by Paramount Pictures)

Lily Gladstone, a Mountlake Terrace grad, stars in new Scorsese epic

Gladstone’s high school costume designer is hosting a showing of “Killers of the Flower Moon” Friday at the Regal Cinebarre.

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Years ago, during a high school production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” retired teacher Kimberly Nelson overheard the drama students backstage.

One of them was Lily Gladstone, talking with her friends about how cute Leonardo DiCaprio was in “Titanic.”

“To see her 20 years later on the big screen, kissing him, is exciting,” Nelson said. “The (local) crowd is just going to cheer and go crazy when that happens.”

Gladstone went to Mountlake Terrace High School, and now she’s starring in Martin Scorsese’s new 3½-hour epic, sharing the spotlight alongside DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The actress grew up on the Blackfeet Nation reservation in Montana. She is of Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage. After middle school, she moved to Snohomish County. As a Mountlake Terrace Hawk, she won student of the month and an award for her performance as Emily Webb in the school’s production of “Our Town,” according to The Daily Herald archives. She graduated from high school in 2004.

In 2012, Gladstone made her film debut in “Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.” She had her big break in 2016 in Kelly Reichardt’s “Certain Women,” receiving praise from critics for her performance as Jamie, a local rancher. She also had a small role in Reichardt’s 2019 film, “First Cow.”

The Herald was not able to reach Gladstone. Under Screen Actors Guild guidelines, members are not allowed to promote projects while the union is striking.

Nelson used to be a costume designer at the high school, helping Gladstone and other students to put on various productions. Nelson reserved an opening night showing of the film at the Regal Cinebarre theater in Mountlake Terrace.

At 7 p.m. Friday, the theater is expected to be filled with former students of the school, Nelson said.

The retired teacher remembered Gladstone could be a “comedic assassin.”

“She could be kind of quiet and then come up with something that could make you laugh,” Nelson said. “She was extremely loving and kind. She had this unusual beauty about her.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is based on David Grann’s 2017 historical nonfiction book of the same name.

The movie poster for “Killers of the Flower Moon”. (Photo provided by Paramount Pictures)

The movie poster for “Killers of the Flower Moon”. (Photo provided by Paramount Pictures)

The book examined a string of murders of wealthy Osage people in Oklahoma in the early 1920s, shortly after oil deposits were discovered on Osage land. Killings of Osage inheritors of the oil money began soon after, leading to a complex FBI investigation.

Gladstone portrays Mollie Burkhart, the wife of DiCaprio’s character. Burkhart was a member of the wealthy family. Her relatives began dying in mysterious ways.

Gladstone shares the bill alongside Robert De Niro and Brendan Fraser, both of whom have won Oscars for Best Actor, as has DiCaprio. Fraser is the most recent winner of the award.

Scorsese has directed many renowned films in a career that spans six decades, including “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Raging Bull.” In 2019, Scorsese traveled to Oklahoma to meet with the principal chief of the Osage Nation, Geoffrey Standing Bear, to discuss how they could be involved with the film’s production.

“The work is better when you let the world inform your work,” Scorsese said at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Gladstone’s kindness is something that has always stuck with Nelson, who worked at the high school for 26 years before retiring in 2021.

In 2018, Gladstone came to visit Nelson’s friends because their house had burned down. She brought a sage wreath, meant to provide spiritual support and protection for their new home.

“That’s just what Lily did,” Nelson said. “She is just a beautiful soul. In this day and age, we just need some of that human beauty.”

If you go

The Cinebarre event begins at 7 p.m. Friday, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each, but cannot be purchased at the venue. To learn more, contact Nelson via her email address,

The film is also playing at theaters across the country, starting this weekend.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @snocojon.

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