Johnny Depp’s career is jam-packed with eccentric characters and, as of a year ago, he was looking to add to that list with one of South Boston’s most infamous criminals, Whitey Bulger. The inspiration behind Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed and Pete Postlethwaite’s from The Town, Bulger was a notoriously violent and dangerous mob boss who – thanks to a tip from FBI agent John Connolly – managed to avoid arrest for 10 years.
In 2001, Bulger became the subject of former Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill’s New York Times bestseller, Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. Their book then became the basis for Mark Mallouk’s screenplay, which went through major rewrites when Bulger was arrested in 2011, significantly altering the third act.
Depp was in talks to play the larger-than-life mob boss-turned-fugitive and filming was set to begin in the summer of 2013. Then discussions broke down over salary between him and the film’s financiers, Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media. Since then, Depp finished work on the sci-fi flick, Transcendence, and only today found himself at the center of the latest Marvel casting rumor. However, Deadline is reporting that talks for Depp to star as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass have started back up.
Depp as one of America’s most dangerous criminals would undoubtedly be memorable. Seeing the quirky actor go dark as a real world villain – perhaps darker than we’ve ever seen him before – will no doubt provide the actor with the opportunity to pull off a fascinating performance. At the very least it’ll be a change of pace from his latest string of disappointing gigs – Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Dark Shadows, and The Lone Ranger.
Back when Depp was initially linked to Black Mass, Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) had also closed a deal to star as the FBI agent, John Connelly. Deadline‘s latest report mentions Edgerton in passing but doesn’t confirm whether or not he’s still involved in the project.
They do report writer/director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) is hoping to get involved. Replacing Barry Levinson, Cooper is currently negotiating to direct Black Mass as well as rewrite the script. He came into prominence with 2009’s Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges and followed it with 2013’s Out of the Furnace. That latest film, a violent revenge thriller about a man who becomes entangled with a dangerous crime ring, gives Cooper a strong claim on bringing Bulger’s story to the big screen.
No word on when Black Mass is expected to begin shooting, but if Depp does become involved it will have to happen before the actors becomes too involved with Alice in Wonderland 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
Is a role like Whitey Bulger a character you’re interested in seeing Depp portray? What of Cooper as director – is he a better candidate than Levinson?
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more information about Black Mass as it becomes available.