Martin Scorsese is set to direct an upcoming musical biopic about the Grateful Dead, casting Jonah Hill as the iconic rock band’s frontman, Jerry Garcia. Reuniting for the first time since 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, the pair will coproduce the project. Still untitled, the project has not made clear which period of the band’s history will be dramatized in the film.
The Grateful Dead formed in the Bay area in 1965 and became one of the key symbols of the counterculture. Along with Garcia, founding members include Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann. Although Garcia’s 1995 death brought an end to the band, his passing and their breakup did very little to diminish the Dead’s enduring popularity. Garcia’s songs continued to be played by the offshoot group Dead & Company, which just wrapped its latest tour with a sold-out three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl.
Taking to Instagram to share the news first reported by Deadline Hollywood, Jonah Hill captioned his post with prayer hands and skull emoji. The biopic is being developed at Apple, where Scorsese is currently working on his next film, Killers of the Flower Moon. The Western crime drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, whose credits include The People v. O.J. Simpson, Ed Wood, and Dolemite Is My Name, have been hired to pen the screenplay.
Surviving members of the Grateful Dead – Weir, Kreutzmann, Lesh and Mickey Hart – are on the board as executive producers. Jerry Garcia’s daughter, Trixie Garcia, and the band’s manager Bernie Cahill will also executive produce, along with Eric Eisner. Additional producers include Hill’s partner Matt Dines through their company Strong Baby and Rick Yorn via LBI Entertainment.
As well as such masterpieces as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, and Goodfellas, Scorsese has been involved in many high-profile music documentaries. Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary Woodstock, 1978’s The Last Waltz, 2011’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World, and 2019’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.
Although no date has been set for the beginning of production, Scorsese is already an expert on the band’s history. He executive-produced a six-part documentary series in 2017 about the Grateful Dead titled, Long Strange Trip. In that project’s announcement, Scorsese called the Grateful Dead “more than just a band. They were their own planet, populated by millions of devoted fans.”