Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson Cast in Upcoming Martin Scorsese Film ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

by Jennifer Shea

Country stars Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson have joined the cast of the Martin Scorsese-directed film “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The movie takes place in Oklahoma during the 1920s. It’s based on the 2017 nonfiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which examines the murders of multiple well-off Osage Nation members in the early 1920s.  

Also starring in the film are Leonardo DiCaprio, William Belleau and Louis Cancelmi, Deadline reports. Isbell will play Bill Smith, a foe of Ernest Burkhart, who conspired with his brother and his uncle to commit the murders. Simpson will play Henry Grammer, the notorious rodeo champion and bootlegger.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Delves into Murders

The Osage Nation members who died in the early 1920s had been granted the rights to profits from oil found on their land, according to The Boot.

There was a local cattle farmer, William Hale, who had built his ranch on the Osage Indian Reservation. He and his two nephews, Ernest and Bryan Burkhart, committed the murders, a court later ruled. Hale was only ever convicted of one of the murders – that of Henry Roan, a native Osage. He got out on parole in 1947.

Ernest Burkhart got out on parole in 1959 and a court pardoned him in 1966. Bryan Burkhart, who was a witness for the state, escaped prison time.

Scorsese has reportedly cast Robert DeNiro as Hale. Belleau is playing Roan.

Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson Had a Busy 2020

Over the past year, Isbell released his seventh studio album, Reunions, and did a bunch of interviews promoting that. This spring, he also began scheduling tour dates, starting in late April and running through the end of 2021, according to his website.

Simpson, meanwhile, came down with and had to be hospitalized for COVID-19. While he was recovering from being sick, he came up with the idea for his first bluegrass album, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 – The Butcher Shoppe Sessions. He released the album in October of last year. It featured bluegrass-inspired reimaginings of some of his songs, recorded with Nashville’s best acoustic musicians.

And with their new roles in “Killers of the Flower Moon” to prepare for, it looks like the musicians will be busier than ever.