Martin Scorsese is making a musical biofilm of Grateful Dead, starring Jonah Hill, who will star as the lead figure of the iconic rock band Jerry Garcia.
The project brings together Scorsese and Hill, who worked together on “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In addition to directing, Scorsese will serve as a producer alongside Hill.
It is not clear what period of the group’s history will be dramatized by the still senseless film. The Grateful Dead developed in the Bay area in 1965 and became one of the essential symbols of the counterculture upon releasing a debut album in 1967 that was as heavy on the members’ love for root music as the psychedelia of the period. Along with Garcia, founding members include Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann. Ties of “Deadheads” rallied to see the ultimate “jam band” over a period of decades until Garcia’s death in 1995 brought an end to the band. His demise and their breakup did little to diminish the continued popularity of the Dead: Garcia’s songs were still played by the branch group Dead & Co., which had just wrapped up its last tour with a sold-out three-night love affair at the Hollywood Bowl.
Hill shared the news, which was first reported by Deadline Hollywood, on Instagram, subtitling his post with prayer hands emoji.
The film is being developed at Apple, where Scorsese is currently working on his next film “Killers of the Flower Moon”, a western crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons.
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, whose credits include “American Crime Story: Impeachment,” “The People v. OJ Simpson,” “Ed Wood” and “Dolemite Is My Name,” were hired to write the screenplay for the movie Dead.
Surviving members of the Grateful Dead seem to have given the next film their blessing, with Weir, Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart on board as executive producers. Trixie Garcia, Jerry Garcia’s daughter, and the band’s manager Bernie Cahill will also be executive producer, along with Eric Eisner. Additional producers include Hill’s partner Matt Dines through his company Strong Baby and Rick Yorn via LBI Entertainment.
Although perhaps best known for “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull”, “The King of Comedy” and “Goodfellas”, Scorsese has been involved in several high-profile music documentaries, from working on Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 film “Woodstock” to directing. “The Last Waltz” of 1978, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” of 2011 and “Rolling Thunder Revue: Bob Dylan Story” of 2019.
It is unknown at this time when the film will begin production, but Scorsese already knows the history of the group. In 2017, he produced a six-part documentary series about the Grateful Dead titled “Long Strange Journey”. In the announcement of that project, Scorsese said the Grateful Dead are “more than just a group.” He said, “They were their own planet, inhabited by millions of devoted fans.”