One could argue that Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to play a truly villainous character. The star of Inception has finally found a serial killer to challenge his skills. DiCaprio will portray HH Holmes in an adaptation of The Devil in the White City.
Erik Larson’s non-fiction book tells the legendary story of a serial killer who terrorized Chicago’s World Fair of 1893. Before his death in 1896, Holmes admitted to a number of murders. His charm helped bring countless women into what he called The World’s Fair Hotel – eventually known as the murder castle. The exact total for his victim count has varied from 27 to 200 since then.
Leonardo DiCaprio is the perfect fit for this role. His combination of charm and terror should be seamless and if he plays his cards right, this could be to DiCaprio’s career what Once Upon A Time In The West was to Henry Fonda’s. For the latter, director Sergio Leone convinced Fonda to take the role of a villain because it would shock the world to see a man known for his heroic characters on the other side.
DiCaprio’s recent rush of roles with inner torment continues with Devil in the White City. It takes the endless dedication of a performer like DiCaprio to truly pull of these roles. For instance, whatever Vince Vaughn lacked as Norman Bates in Psycho, DiCaprio is more than able to replace with this serial killer.
Beyond DiCaprio, the overall tale of HH Holmes is fascinating. Appian Way and Double Features will distribute the film after a flurry of praise for the novel. Executives for both companies shared some thoughts on the film in a statement via Deadline.
“[The book is] truly a one-of-its-kind American story about our nation’s first serial killer. We’re exited to bring it to the big screen.”
“This is a big, entertaining thriller in an incredible setting that will appeal to worldwide audience.”
In addition, Chicago will be featured prominently with this film. We’ve seen the city’s dark side with a few gangster movies over the years, but this should shed new light (or darkness) on the Windy City. It is as much about a single man as it is about the fear he spread through one of the most popular events in the world at the turn of the 20th century.
But in the end, it is a film about HH Holmes’ infamous murders and again, DiCaprio has yet to play a truly villainous character. Mind you, morally questionable characters are not really villainous. The closest DiCaprio ever came to playing a villain in his career was Man in the Iron Mask. Needless to say, he needs a better bad guy.
Some would say J. Edgar Hoover is close. DiCaprio will portray the FBI director in Clint Eastwood’s upcoming biopic Hoover.
Regardless, Devil In The White City is exciting in every possible way. It has been shuffled around Hollywood for a few years now, even skimming through Tom Cruise’s radar during the book’s initial popularity. DiCaprio is a fantastic choice and his schedule over the next few years should churn out a much-deserved Oscar soon enough.
What do you think of DiCaprio as HH Holmes? Discuss the choice and the book itself in the comments section below.