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Everyone who has “Watch Matt Damon star as gangster Whitey Bulger” scrawled drunkenly on their Bucket List, listen up. That project, which Ben Affleck is set to direct, is finally showing some signs of life. Deadline reports Warner Bros. is currently in negotiations to bring screenwriter Aaron Stockard on board to perform some script doctoring on the current screenplay. It’ll be a while before this project will be going into production anyway, so it’s okay that they’re still only in the revision phase.
Stockard’s name may not be familiar to you, as he’s only had two projects produced, but I’m betting you know his work well. He was a co-writer on both Gone Baby Gone and The Town, both of which were directed by Affleck. It's not exactly hard to figure out how he got this new gig, but that’s hardly a bad thing as I really liked both of those films. Both of them served up a nice balance of crime and human drama, which is what this new film really needs. The Town already had a Bulger-like character, played with badassery by the dearly departed Pete Postlethwaite, so drawing out more of the same thing shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Stockard, especially if he’s only adding to a preexisting script.
The project began with Boardwalk Empire creator and The Sopranos writer Terrence Winter holding the pen, but there’s no telling why his initial screenplay needs to be changed. There hasn’t really been any information regarding how the story will be told, as Damon and Affleck have debated whether to make this a biopic covering the gangster's entire life or make it something more event-focused.
There are certainly more than enough events in Bulger’s life to choose from. A former FBI informant, the south Boston crime boss was a fugitive from 1994 until he was finally caught in 2011 at age 81. He was put on trial in June of this year for 32 counts of racketeering and extortion, among other things, and was found to have been involved in at least 11 murders - though that number is, realistically, a tad low. They only have so much evidence.
There’s no telling when the film will go into production, and seeing as Affleck will be busy playing Batman and both directing and starring in the Denis Lehane crime drama adaptation Live by Night next year, I imagine it’ll be a while before the project hits theaters. In the meantime, how about a documentary?