He’s not following the touring band around on the road and dropping acid or anything, but Martin Scorsese’s a true Deadhead. He stepped in as executive producer on Amir Bar-Lev’s Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip back in 2017, and now he’s announced a new project that will raise his jam band street cred to the next level.
Deadline has the exclusive that an Apple-fronted biopic of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia will be Scorsese’s next directorial gig after his currently in-production Western film Killers of the Flower Moon, a Boomer-catnip setup that has nonetheless inspired conniptions of excitement in cinephiles of all ages. And to play the bearded, congenial, constantly high guitarist of legend, Scorsese has tapped his past collaborator and pal Jonah Hill, a guy who pretty much fits the description beginning this sentence.
Garcia channeled the currents of the ’60s counterculture into a deep catalogue of classic albums that those alive during his heyday now associate with good times, peace, and love. Though his music has turned him into an avatar of chill vibes, his personal life was marred by the same difficulties plaguing most rock stars – addictions to heroin and cocaine, resultant health problems, a sadly premature death.
It’s a logical choice for Scorsese, whose body of work has constantly focused on the titans of the golden-oldie era beyond the Dead in specific, from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan to George Harrison to The Band. If anyone can be relied on to eschew the cliches of the increasingly hidebound musician biopic form, it’s Marty, and it helps that the script will come from Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, old hands in this genre.
The most curious prospect will be Hill’s performance as Garcia, presumably a more dialed-back showing than we’re used to from the often tetchy, high-energy actor. Grateful Dead scholar Jordan Hoffman has already pointed to Hill’s turn in the recent Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot as a possible preview, the weighty calm of his role as a recovering addict very much in line with Garcia’s serenity.
Published 18 Nov 2021
By Dan Einav
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