Martin Scorsese’s Next Picture, Killers of the Flower Moon, Features Some Notable Canadian Talent

It is astonishing to think that the legendary Martin Scorsese has been at the absolute pinnacle of filmmaking since the 1970s. And he is still producing masterful works to this very day, with his latest release, 2019’s The Irishman, being yet another critical triumph for the filmmaker. Scorsese’s consistent brilliance is comparable only to Steven Spielberg – who is the favourite to nab his third Oscar for Best Director over fifty years into his career – while even the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, despite his sheer genius, was unable to maintain this level of filmmaking late into his career.

As such, being cast in a Martin Scorsese picture is not only a prestigious honour, but for actors working with the director for the first time, it is also something of an affirmation of their transcendent talents. I certainly took notice when he cast Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street and Jessy Plemons in The Irishman, two incredibly talented actors who, in my opinion, are utterly deserving of working with one of the world’s foremost cinematic maestros. Of course, Scorsese is also known for working with certain actors time and again, in particular Robert de Niro and Leonardo di Caprio, and his latest upcoming picture, Killers of the Flower Moon, is no different, with his two greatest muses appearing once again in leading roles (though, interestingly, it is the first time they are in a Scorsese film together). Plemons is also returning here for his second Scorsese feature, though he has been cast in a far more significant role this time around. 

To go with this already stacked cast is John Lithgow, Louis Cancelmi, and musicians Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Jack White. There is also a standout contingent of Canadian talent working on this highly anticipated feature, some returning, some newcomers to Scorsese’s high brand of filmmaking.

Before going on, for those who don’t know, Killers of the Flower Moon is based on a non-fiction book by American writer David Grann, which details the shocking murders of a number of Osage people, a Native American tribe based in Oklahoma who became inheritors of land rich with oil. It was also one of the earliest FBI cases, with a young J. Edgar Hoover directing the case, while Plemons will be depicting Texas Ranger Tom White, who eventually solves the case.

Most notable among the Canadian cast members is one of the most talked about actors of the moment, Brendan Fraser, who will be playing a lawyer by the name of W.S. Hamilton. This role is part of what fans have dubbed the “Brenaissance” as Fraser continues his triumphant return to Hollywood filmmaking while being one of the running favourites to win Best Actor at the Oscars for his massively acclaimed role in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. One can be forgiven for thinking that Fraser is strictly American, and while it is true he was born in Indianapolis, he holds dual citizenship having been born to Canadian parents, with his father having worked for the Government Office of Tourism as a Canadian foreign service officer, while his maternal grandfather was a French-Canadian Olympic gold medallist for trap shooting, the only Canadian to earn gold at the 1952 Summer Olympics.

In addition to Fraser, legendary native actress and Order of Canada recipient Tantoo Cardinal, who hails from Alberta and is of Cree and Métis heritage, will play a significant role in the film, and it is wonderful to see Scorsese hiring native actors to play native roles, along with Lily Gladstone (who is the lead actress) and Tatanka Means, both of whom will portray members of the Osage people. Scorsese has made it clear that he is not only shooting on location in Oklahoma where these murders occurred but is also working with Native American advisors to ensure the picture’s faithfulness to their culture.

There are also two Canadians who have worked with Scorsese previously and are returning once again for Killers of the Flower Moon. The first is Alberta actor Gary Basaraba, who previously played Jimmy Hoffa ally and eventual Teamster president Frank Fitzsimmons in The Irishman, and this time around he will portray famed American private investigator William J. Burns. Also returning is Torontonian musician Robbie Robertson, who has worked with Scorsese on numerous occasions since he shot a concert film of Robertson’s music group at the time, the legendary act is known as The Band. Robertson is regarded as amongst the greatest guitarists of all time and has worked with Scorsese in varying roles as a music editor, producer and composer from 1980’s Raging Bull onwards. He will be scoring Killers of the Flower Moon, which marks the third time Robertson will score a Scorsese picture, having also scored 1982’s The King of Comedy and The Irishman.

While a specific release date has yet to be announced, Killers of the Flower Moon is currently in post-production and is expected to be released sometime in 2023.

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