When Ernest meets Mollie, he’s trying to make some cash by being a taxi drive around Osage County. He catches her walking through town and offers her a ride. Mollie is quiet and calm, she let’s her face express more than her words ever might. Ernest shows some of his more rascally tendencies, as he takes an interest in a sudden drag race through downtown, which distracts him from driving Mollie home for a moment. But as soon as they’re on the road, he puts on the charm, but only slowly at first.
However, that natural attraction Ernest has for Mollie is thrown into overdrive when Hale reveals that he thinks it would be a good idea to “help the Osage people” by marrying into their family and ensuring that the recent rash of mysterious deaths of Osage people doesn’t result in their land being taken away from them. At least that’s what Hale tells Burkhart, who is more than a bit gullible and easily manipulated. That’s when Burkhart pulls out all the stops and makes it clear that he’s interested in Mollie romantically.
Acting as her regular driver around town, he’s much more direct about pursuing her. When he questions her about another potential romantic interest in her life, he mentions just wanting to know who else is in this horse race. Mollie responds with words in the Osage language, which Ernest doesn’t understand. Mollie repeats it, and Ernest responds, with a flirtatious grin on his face, “Well, I don’t know what that was, but it must’ve been Indian for handsome devil,” which prompts Mollie to laugh in amusement.
During a recent press conference in support of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” director Martin Scorsese revealed that this was an improvised moment. In fact, Lily Gladstone’s laugh in response to the line is genuine. As Scorsese said, “So that moment you have the actual relationship, it’s actually between the two actors.” And that was a key moment that resonates throughout the entire film, because even as Ernest continually lies and betrays Mollie, he still genuinely loves her and believes what he’s doing is for their own good.