Robbie Robertson’s manager of over 30 years Jared Levine remembered how much “Killers of the Flower Moon” director Martin Scorsese loved to cut to a harmonica when Robertson first presented sample scoring during early editing.
Scorsese’s latest film, adapted from the book of the same name by David Grann, stars Leonard DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart, nephew of Robert DeNiro’s William Hale, who orchestrated the mysterious murders of Osage tribe members in the 1920s. Lily Gladstone stars as Mollie Burkhart. “Killers” was also the last film Robertson scored before he died.
“The interesting thing about Marty is that he likes to cut to music. So as soon as the film is done, as soon as he’s done shooting, he wants to have music. The first draft of the music for the film is with us not having seen any of the picture, we did go down and watch some of the shooting while they were shooting it, but we don’t know how the scenes are coming together. We don’t know what’s in the movie or what isn’t, and Marty doesn’t yet. But he wants music. And if we don’t provide it for him, he’ll use temp music and he’ll fall in love because he’s cut to that music,” Levine told TheWrap on the red carpet for the film before it screened at the Dolby Theater Monday night. “What seems to be used quite a lot in this movie is harmonica. And at one point Robbie was like, ‘Let’s not give Marty any more harmonica because he’s using a lot of harmonica in this movie!’ He wanted to be like, Let’s get some other, you know, lead instruments in there. But you’ll hear that the harmonica seems to be well used in the film.”
Levine, who worked on 10 films with Scorsese and Robertson, further described the process he had come to know well.
“So we [had to go into the studio before we [saw] any of the film and we [had] to give him a first draft. We [went] through ideas with Marty, you know, and we trade[d] back some thoughts of instrumentation and different things that we want[ed], and then we just [went and did] some music and see what sticks And then he comes back to us and tells us what’s working, shows us some scenes, and we start to realize what we need and what we can do. And then we go back in and we start doing music for the scenes that were being set.”
Robertson died at the beginning of August 2023. His friendship with Scorsese outlasted even Levine’s tenure as Robertson’s manager.
“They were good friends for a long time before I was on the scene. But, you know, they’ve just been so close over the years. They used to live together at one point so they have a lot of experiences together. I was lucky enough to work on ten films with them both, and they’ve just always been so close,” Levine said. “They text[ed] all the time. They [had] a tradition of spending Thanksgiving call[ing] each other and talk[ing] for a long time. I think this Thanksgiving is going to be the hardest for Marty because of that. They were best friends.”
Levine feels his late client throughout the three-and-a-half-hour feature film, which releases in theaters this Friday, October 20, 2023.
“He’s infused in the film. The music is so his music. He has a very unique style,” Levine said. “I think it pervades throughout the movie. So I think, you know, you’ll feel like all the way through.”
“Killers of the Flower Moon” launches in theaters October 20, 2023. Apple TV+ has yet to announce the streaming date.