Inside the Musical Legacy of Martin Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon': Robbie Robertson, Jack White, Jason Isbell and More

The crime epic features a cast full of musicians, plus the final-ever score from a legendary artist

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 17, 2023

Martin Scorsese's latest cinematic epic, Apple TV+'s Killers of the Flower Moon, examines the true story of the Oklahoma murders that took place after oil was discovered on Osage Nation land in the 1920s. It features some of Scorsese's favourite acting collaborators, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, alongside notable Hollywood talent like Brendan Fraser, Jesse Plemons and Lily Gladstone.

Take a look further down the cast, however, and things get a lot more unusual. The personnel of Killers of the Flower Moon is rounded out not by the usual actors, but with musicians: alt-country disruptors Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson both act in the film, as does rocker Pete Yorn. Even blues veteran Charlie Musselwhite and the White StripesJack White make appearances.

It's the latest in a long line of musical crossovers from Scorsese, who — along with directing some of the most beloved crime dramas ever — has also made some of the most acclaimed music documentaries ever. Killers of the Flower Moon is scored by one of his most trusted collaborators since 1978's The Last Waltz, the Band's Robbie Robertson (The King of Comedy, The Color of Money), whose mother was Cayuga and Mohawk.

With Killers of the Flower Moon arriving in theatres October 20 and a subsequent release to follow on Apple TV+, we're taking a deep dive into the film's many musical connections.

Robbie Robertson
In 1976, Scorsese filmed the Band's farewell concert, and two years later released it under the name The Last Waltz. It has since gone on to be widely acknowledged as one of the best concert films and music documentaries of all time — so it's only fitting that the Band's primary songwriter, Robbie Robertson, went on to become a frequent collaborator with Scorsese working on the music for many of his films since 1980's Raging Bull. Robertson once again returns for the score of Killers of the Flower Moon. Sadly, this marks Robertson's final film score, as he passed away in August.

Sturgill Simpson
Rising country star Sturgill Simpson has amassed an impressive acting resume over the past decade, having a recurring role in the series One Dollar and The Righteous Gemstones, and appearing in the films The Dead Don't Die (2019), Queen & Slim (2019) and The Hunt (2020). In Killers of the Flower Moon, he plays Henry Grammer, a bootlegger who's implicated in the Osage Nation murders.

Jason Isbell
Americana songwriter Jason Isbell has a fairly minimal acting resume, but that will change in a big way with Killers of the Flower Moon. Isbell plays Bill Smith, a white man who was married to Osage Nation member Rita Smith and became one of the victims of the 1920s murder spree.

Pete Yorn
Notable aughts rocker Pete Yorn's biggest Hollywood crossover to date was in 2009 when he made a collaborative album with Scarlett Johansson, Break Up. Killers of the Flower Moon sees Yorn play Acie Kirby. While little about the role has been revealed, one online account of the Osage Nation murders notes that Kirby was an explosives expert who was double crossed.

Charlie Musselwhite
Charlie Musselwhite is a veteran bluesman and harmonica player who made his mark as part of the Chicago blues movement of the 1960s. His role in Killers of the Flower Moon as Alvin Reynolds is just the latest time he's found himself in the world of Hollywood: he was reportedly the inspiration for Elwood Blues, the character Dan Aykroyd played in 1980's The Blues Brothers.

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