When you’ve lived a life of crime as thrilling and tawdry as James “Whitey” Bulger, you can imagine why Hollywood would circle your story like vultures eyeballing a roadside carcass. And so we’re now getting reports of a second Bulger biopic in the works, with a major A-list talent interested in playing the lead.
Johnny Depp is now attached to play the infamous Boston gangster in Black Mass, which will be directed by Barry Levinson (Diner, Avalon). Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. The Mafioso, who spent years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list before his capture in 2011, protected the criminals of Boston’s chief neighborhoods, but largely went unbothered because he reportedly worked as an informant to the FBI in exchange for certain freedoms. He eventually was arrested in Santa Monica, California, when the 81-year-old was picked up with his girlfriend and extradited to Massachusetts. He remains in custody in Plymouth, Mass.
“I could not be more thrilled to have the biggest star in the world and Academy-Award winning director Barry Levinson to finally bring this incredible story to the big screen,” Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver said in a statement. Though they might have to hurry. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have been circling a Bulger movie for some time now. No word yet if Depp attaching his name to Levinson’s picture will force them to back off.
Depp, meanwhile, signed on for a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, so it’s unclear which project he’ll attack first. The actor does tend to show favor to true-crime dramas, from Public Enemies to the spectacular Donnie Brasco. Of course, he also has The Lone Ranger arriving in theaters this summer, but Bulger appears to be on his horizon. Are you excited to see him in the role?
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.